Study: Most kids do not use inhalers properly

Only one in four children knows how to properly use his or her inhaler, pointing to a need for better design of asthma drug delivery devices, Futurity reports. The article points to a study led by Betsy Sleath, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who found some disturbing results after testing 296 patients ages 8 to 16 on four different asthma inhalers.

Only 8.1 percent of the kids in the study performed all the steps correctly using a metered-dose inhaler. With a diskus (dry-powder inhaler delivery Advair) 21.9 percent; kids using a turbuhaler (dry-powder inhaler delivering Pulimcort or Symbicort) 15.6 percent; and kids using a peak-flow meter used it correctly 23.9 percent of the time. The researchers also found that most healthcare providers did not demonstrate or assess children's use of the four devices during pediatric visits.

These numbers are potentially dangerous to children, as improper use of inhalers can lead to poor control of asthma. "It is crucial that health-care providers not only show a child how to use an inhaler correctly but also have the child demonstrate the device in front of a physician or pharmacist," Sleath said to Futurity.

Mass Device reports on the study, too, and adds that it is crucial that in designing inhalers, engineers should rely on early and frequent usability testing.

- read the report in Futurity
- and the Mass Device story
- take a look at the abstract in the journal Pediatrics