In the Journals

Standardizing approaches for asthma action plans advocated

Small changes in the language, layout and graphics of an asthma action plan could lead to better adherence with these plans, according to study data published online.

H. Shonna Yin, MD, of the department of pediatrics, New York University School of Medicine and Bellevue Hospital Center, New York, and colleagues looked at 30 asthma action plans, all of which were endorsed by state health officials, and analyzed the plans for readability, format and content, including presence of recommendations for specific actions to take for asthma exacerbations.

The researchers said only 30% of the action plans were readable for those with a sixth-grade reading level or lower, which is recommended for the general US population. Forty percent of the action plans had a score that Yin and colleagues found to be “unsuitable” in at least one of the factors examined, specifically in the areas of layout/typography (30%), learning stimulation/motivation (26.7%) and graphics (13.3%).

The researchers said their findings may indicate a need for a standard action plan, which could be adopted nationally, to reduce individual plan variability, as well as the presence of the “unsuitable” factors.

“While there was variability in existing asthma action plans with respect to reading level, format, as well as content, there were also many common elements which would support a move toward a single universal standard action plan,” Yin told Infectious Diseases in Children. “Such a standardized plan could be designed to maximize parent and patient understanding, and would support a standard evidence-based provider approach to asthma counseling.”

Disclosure:The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.

H. Shonna Yin, MD, can be reached at YinH02@med.nyu.edu.

Small changes in the language, layout and graphics of an asthma action plan could lead to better adherence with these plans, according to study data published online.

H. Shonna Yin, MD, of the department of pediatrics, New York University School of Medicine and Bellevue Hospital Center, New York, and colleagues looked at 30 asthma action plans, all of which were endorsed by state health officials, and analyzed the plans for readability, format and content, including presence of recommendations for specific actions to take for asthma exacerbations.

The researchers said only 30% of the action plans were readable for those with a sixth-grade reading level or lower, which is recommended for the general US population. Forty percent of the action plans had a score that Yin and colleagues found to be “unsuitable” in at least one of the factors examined, specifically in the areas of layout/typography (30%), learning stimulation/motivation (26.7%) and graphics (13.3%).

The researchers said their findings may indicate a need for a standard action plan, which could be adopted nationally, to reduce individual plan variability, as well as the presence of the “unsuitable” factors.

“While there was variability in existing asthma action plans with respect to reading level, format, as well as content, there were also many common elements which would support a move toward a single universal standard action plan,” Yin told Infectious Diseases in Children. “Such a standardized plan could be designed to maximize parent and patient understanding, and would support a standard evidence-based provider approach to asthma counseling.”

Disclosure:The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.

H. Shonna Yin, MD, can be reached at YinH02@med.nyu.edu.