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July 2, 1997

Taking Asthma Seriously

JAMA. 1997;278(1):11. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550010023010

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AS A STUDY in the complexities of behavior modification, the medical treatment of growing numbers of asthma patients would make a fascinating subject.

An expert panel issued guidelines 6 years ago on the diagnosis and management of asthma, but leaders in the field say clinicians don't necessarily follow them and patients often are undertreated. And if physicians don't use the guidelines to help educate their patients, many asthmatics might rely on quickrelief medications rather than achieving long-term control with anti-inflammatory drugs.

So as morbidity from asthma continues to rise and managed care restricts the time physicians can spend on patient education, experts hope a new set of guidelines will make greater inroads.

"We really feel that the medical profession in the United States needs to take asthma seriously and treat it aggressively," said the chair of the panel that just issued the new guidelines, Shirley Murphy, MD, professor and chair