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Survey Shows Most Asthma Patients Have No Treatment Plan; Critical Mistake, Says MU Respiratory Therapy Expert

June 20, 2007

Story Contact:  Jennifer Faddis, 573-882-6217,

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Most people with asthma have no treatment plan and report that their disease is uncontrolled, according to a recent survey in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. According to a University of Missouri-Columbia respiratory therapy expert, this is a critical mistake.

“In the absence of an asthma action plan/treatment plan, people are much more likely to end up in the emergency room,” said Dana Evans, clinical instructor of respiratory therapy in the MU School of Health Professions. “Asthma is a chronic disease, not an acute condition. It can't be treated only when symptoms occur; it needs to be treated each day.”

New guidelines are scheduled to be released later this year to provide more education for primary care physicians on how to treat asthma. According to Evans, an asthma treatment plan should include a peak flow monitor. Patients should blow into the tube-like device each day to check their rates. The numbers fall into three categories: green, which means everything is fine; yellow, which signals that it is time to take medication; red, which is a warning that a person needs to go to the emergency room.

“If there is no treatment plan, then the person probably does not use a peak flow meter either. Not monitoring symptoms and waiting until they get so bad that a trip to the hospital is needed is not a safe way to manage asthma,” Evans said.

Evans is a nationally certified asthma educator and a neonatal/pediatric specialist. She joined Mizzou's respiratory therapy program faculty in 2003, teaching both clinical and didactic coursework. Evans also practices as a staff respiratory therapist for University of Missouri Health Care and is a member of the Children's Hospital Transport Team.