The Role of Primary Care in Asthma Control and Severity

Asthma and Primary Care in Alberta


  • Joel Agarwal University of Alberta
  • Monette Dimitrov Department of Medicine, University of Alberta
  • Kerri MacKay Canadian Severe Asthma Network
  • Alan Kaplan Family Practice Airways Group of Canada
  • Donald Cockcroft Faculty of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan
  • Dilini Vethanayagam Department of Medicine, University of Alberta



Background: Asthma is a common chronic inflammatory disease of the airways affecting 3 million
Canadians. Primary Care Providers (PCPs) are integral to care coordination, enhanced through the
development of a strong patient-PCP relationship with Continuity of Care (COC). A recent CIHI study
noted that 40% of Albertans do not have a COC model for primary care.
Objectives: We aim to evaluate how primary care for adults with asthma impacts different measures of
Methods: Prospective population-based recruitment of adults through various community venues
across Alberta. Those who had self-reported asthma and were willing to participate completed a survey
which included demographics, comorbidities, medication use (including biologics, allergy medications,
steroids), Asthma Control Questionnaire (ACQ-5), Asthma Control Test (ACT), Quality of Life (QoL)
measured through the mini-Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire (mini-AQLQ) and health care utilization
(including Emergency Department (ED) visits, hospitalizations and ICU stays for asthma).
Results: Of the 1685 individuals approached, 61 (3.6%) reported having asthma, of which 47 lived in
Alberta. Most (41, 87%) had a PCP, with 30 (64%) visiting their PCP at least twice a year. Uncontrolled
asthma was noted in 21 (45%) with either the ACQ-5 or ACT. The mini-AQLQ indicated 5 (11%) with
reduced QoL. Mean lifetime hospitalizations, lifetime Emergency Department (ED) visits, and ICU stays
related to asthma were 1.52, 4.55 and 0.25 respectively. Further, mean hospitalizations and ED visits in
the past 12 months related to asthma were 0.05 and 0.30 respectively.
Conclusions: Asthma control was poor in 21 (45%) surveyed individuals, suggesting sub-optimal asthma
management in Alberta. Knowledge of Primary Care Networks (PCNs) was low, while ED and hospital
usage was high.






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