Asthma Society survey: nearly half of people with asthma haven’t used a spacer device in the last year or ever

Nearly half of people with asthma are not using their spacer device adequately, according to the Asthma Society of Ireland. A recent survey conducted by the Society on spacer device usage in Ireland, shows that 48% of people had not used a spacer device in the last year or never used one at all.

This survey, which was completed by 2,318 people, was conducted in Nov/Dec 2018 as part of the Asthma Society’s new ‘Mystery of Spacers’ campaign. The aim of the campaign, which is kindly supported by Teva, is to clear up the many myths around spacer devices and essentially get more people using them.

The results of the survey also showed that outdated myths about asthma and spacer devices are still commonly believed by members of the public. Spacer devices should be used by children and adults every time they use their spacer-compatible inhaler device, when prescribed by their doctor as a preferred medication delivery method.

The spacer device usage survey results show that:

  • 41% of people with asthma do not use their spacer device regularly
  • One in five people surveyed believe spacer devices are for children only
  • 37% of people who have a child with asthma say their child does not have access to a spacer device in school
  • Only one in three people with asthma clean their spacer device as often as they should
  • 33% of people whose child has asthma said their child would feel very or somewhat embarrassed using their spacer device at school
  • 9% of people with asthma experience asthma attacks weekly
  • 41% of people with asthma don’t visit their GP after an asthma attack

The CEO of the Asthma Society of Ireland, Sarah O’Connor said: “The results from the survey are very frightening to us. There is a huge gap in the public understanding of why they should use a spacer device and people are not getting optimal delivery of medication to their lungs as a result. 60% of people in Ireland have uncontrolled asthma and one person dies every week from asthma. A spacer device should be used every time a spacer-compatible inhaler is used, assuming the patient has been educated about how to use their spacer device.”

“Spacer devices ensure the user gets the maximum benefit from their spacer-compatible asthma medication and helps direct it down into the lungs where it is needed. Spacer devices also decrease the risk of side effects of using an inhaler alone and they are also more cost effective than using an inhaler by itself as less medication is lost.”

The Medical Director of the Asthma Society of Ireland, Dr Marcus Butler said: “For me, a worrying statistic gained from the survey was that 37% of parents whose children have asthma said their child would not have access to their spacer device in school, and therefore would result in less reliable deposition of rescue/reliever medication into the airways of the lungs if a child needed their blue inhaler at school, such as if asthma symptoms were triggered by exercise. At the same time, the survey indicated people felt they understood the spacer device’s role in medication delivery. Parents need to ensure their children are using their spacer device every time they use their spacer-compatible inhaler and to ensure that their child is practising good spacer technique themselves or with adult supervision. This misunderstanding by the public as illustrated in the survey has fed into our spacer device campaign and we have created a page with all spacer device videos, hints and tips and a helpful video guide to why spacers are important.”

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