“We've known for a long time that education works in chronic diseases and education in the emergency department makes good sense," said review co-author Brian Rowe, an emergency physician at the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton, AB.

The reviewers analysed twelve randomized controlled studies involving 1,954 patients. All study participants visited the emergency department for a severe asthma attack. Some patient groups received usual care plus asthma education; others received usual care only.

Frequency of re-hospitalization was lower for patients who received asthma education, the review found. Education after an emergency room visit also appears to improve patient attendance at scheduled medical appointments.

Asthma education varied greatly across the 12 analysed studies. The programs included everything from counseling to information about monitoring symptoms and airway constriction to information about what actions to take if asthma worsens. “We still aren't sure which components of education are essential and which can be eliminated without a loss of effectiveness,” Rowe said.

Different healthcare professionals (nurses, doctors, educators) delivered the instruction in different settings (clinics, emergency rooms, home). The review did not determine which professionals provided the best asthma instruction.

Nevertheless, Rowe said, "Physicians generally don't have time to provide education in the chaotic environment of the ED and they, perhaps, are not very effective at providing the type of education needed for this and other chronic diseases in this setting." Certified asthma educators, pharmacists and other healthcare providers may be more effective and efficient at providing this education, he concluded.

MEDICA.de; Source: The Cochrane Collaboration