This article focuses on reducing the barriers to effectively applying what is known about asthma patient education. One barrier to effective asthma control in individuals and populations is failure to recognize the range of influences on patients trying to manage their disease, including actions of family, clinicians, friends and neighbors, work or school mates, and significant people and organizations in the wider social environment. Another deterrent is failing to assist patients in developing their self-regulation skills. Other barriers are the lack of attention to the patients' asthma management goals (as opposed to clinical objectives) and overlooking signs that indicate follow-up education is needed. Five actions taken by health-care professionals could significantly enhance the effectiveness of asthma education: (1) make messages to patients and core skills taught consistent with national asthma guidelines; (2) focus on developing the patient's ability to self-regulate; (3) develop comprehensive plans for treatment and education that assign clinicians to appropriate educative roles; (4) use clinician communication techniques demonstrated to enhance asthma management by patients; and (5) ensure that all providers of education are themselves trained to achieve actions 1 to 4.
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