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Understanding personal asthma action plans

02 March 2021
Volume 32 · Issue 3


Personal asthma action plans are an essential tool to keep people with asthma as well as possible. Heather Henry explains the role of the practice nurse in developing them

Personal asthma action plans (PAAPs) are written plans that help people with asthma to self-care and keep themselves as well as possible. PAAPs are usually developed in partnership with the patient or carer in primary care. PAAPs aim to ensure that people with asthma know how to manage their asthma and when to seek help if their condition deteriorates. To manage their asthma adequately at home, patients will need regular education about what asthma is, an understanding of their triggers, how their medications work and managing their devices. The practice nurse can play a key role in developing the PAAP, monitoring asthma control, and subsequently modifying the PAAP if necessary to maintain control of the condition.

Personal asthma action plans (PAAPs) are written plans that explain to the patient the actions to take to manage their asthma. They are an essential tool to keep children, young people and adults with asthma as well as possible. They enable self-care and help parents of younger children to support their child at home. It is also useful for PAAPs to be shared with schools and other family members who may share childcare responsibilities, so they are aware of how to support a child.

PAAPs are normally developed in partnership with the patient or carer in primary care or, occasionally, in the case of more severe asthma, in partnership with a specialist asthma team. It is important that general practice nurses value PAAPs and use them as a tool within consultations to help with education and understanding.

The National Review of Asthma Deaths (NRAD) (Royal College of Physicians, 2014) investigated the clinical records of 195 adults and children who died of asthma between February 2012 and January 2013. One of the many findings was that the patients' understanding of how to manage their asthma and when to seek help was extremely poor. For example, 45% of patients died without seeking medical assistance or before emergency assistance arrived. The knowledge and expertise of health professionals was also poor, with only 23% of the people who died having been given a PAAP.

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