Acute asthma attacks and problematical management lead to many visits to emergency departments by patients and carers of people with asthma, say the investigators in European Respiratory Journal.
They suggest one reason might be inadequate patient education, although the optimal format for educating patients is uncertain.
Dr Sheree Smith and colleagues at Oxford University's Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine looked at the effectiveness of two styles of patient education on reducing further emergency department visits – patient centred and standard - both using the same topics.
146 adults presenting to emergency departments with acute asthma were randomised to patient-centred education, where they were allowed to reorder topics according to their own priority, or to a standard education group who were not.
At four months, re-attendance rates to the emergency department stayed the same (at 23%) for the standard education group but fell from 22% to 12% in the patient-centred education group.
In 78 patients discharged after emergency care, the patient-centred group had fewer re-attendances after four and 12 months, and there was a trend of better asthma control.