Children's adherence to asthma medication is negatively affected by “parental problems and a chaotic home environment”, according to a new study presented at the European Respiratory Society's annual congress in Vienna, Austria.
The report claims that issues at home, including busy parents and financial problems, can lead to children not taking their medicine, causing asthma symptoms to worsen.
Researchers in the Netherlands electronically measured how well children took their maintenance medication as part of an ongoing project to assess influences on adherence in asthma, with non-adherence already understood to be a common problem.
They followed this by interviewing the parents of 20 children, split between those with the highest levels of adherence and those with the lowest, to try and understand what was preventing some children following their treatment plan.
Although all parents said they intended to strictly follow the agreed treatment plan, a variety of lifestyle factors meant such intentions were not followed through, with some parents even giving their children full responsibility to take their medication as prescribed, with the lack of parental support resulting in low adherence.
The study's results were supported by David Supple, the parent of a child with asthma.
Speaking about his own experience, he said: “It can be chaotic having four children, and when we have given our son Alex responsibility over his medication to control his asthma, we have found his adherence slip away.”
The study's lead author Professor Paul Brand said the results should influence the way doctors treat children with asthma.
“It is crucial that healthcare professionals treating children with asthma carefully assess what these potential barriers could be so that appropriate interventions can be put in place to help correct the problems.”
Adherence is becoming one of the biggest challenges for both the pharma industry and healthcare systems, with patients potentially facing damaging consequences if they do not stick to a treatment plan.
This has led to calls from several major European healthcare organisations, including the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) and the European Patients' Forum (EPF), for action across the EU to improve adherence.