Objective: To estimate the proportion of asthmatics with correct pressurised metered-dose inhaler (MDI) technique.
Methods: All asthmatics 12 to 65 years of age using a MDI and attending an urgent care clinic on selected clinic days over a five-month period were administered a questionnaire and had their MDI technique evaluated.
Results: Of 148 respondents (response rate 99%), the median age was 27 years, 28% were male, 99% black, 87% had asthma for six or more years, 83% were using steroid inhalers, 24% were attending for treatment of an asthma attack, and only 36% received routine non-urgent asthma care. Sixty-one per cent reported controlled asthma over the previous month, 97% felt their MDI technique was good and 25% did not identify a healthcare worker as the source of MDI technique education. Pharmacists almost never provided instructions. In the previous week 47% had no asthma symptoms or need to use rescue inhalers and 63% had controlled asthma as determined by the asthma control questionnaire. Only 5% (95% confidence interval +/- 3.4) had correct MDI technique. All patients removed the cap, but only 41% shook the device, 56% actuated the inhaler only once, 11% coordinated actuation and inhalation correctly and 18% held their breath after inhalation.
Conclusions: Few persons had correct MDI technique. Healthcare workers should use every opportunity to check and teach inhaler technique.