Complex inhalers may prevent patients from taking medicine properly

Patients suffering from respiratory disease with arthritis could struggle to manage their condition because their inhalers are too fiddly for them to use, a study has claimed. According to the researchers, medical professionals should check that patients with respiratory diseases and rheumatoid arthritis can use their inhalers properly to reduce the risk of their being unable to take their medicines.

“Pharmacists, doctors and nurses need to make these easy checks not only to help patients achieve better outcomes but also reduce demand on the NHS, not to mention taking away the stress and irritation of a complex and difficult process for the patient,” said co-author of the study Matthew Jones, Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology at the University of Bath. Respiratory diseases, including asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), are common in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis often affects the hands making complex or finely controlled actions difficult and painful, the researcher said.

For the study, published in the journal Respiratory Medicine, researchers recruited a group of patients with rheumatoid arthritis and compared how well they could use four types of commonly prescribed inhalers to a healthy control group. They discovered that only 15% of the arthritis patients could complete all the steps to use one type of inhaler. Two other commonly prescribed inhalers saw the arthritis group struggle to complete the operating steps compared to the control group (50% to 91%, and 77% to 97%).

“No one wants to see patients struggle needlessly to take the medicines they need to manage serious conditions” the researcher said. “These results show how important it is that health professionals make sure people can use any inhaler they prescribe,” Jones noted.


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