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Allergist Care Associated with Improved Asthma Control

Better outcomes observed in asthmatics treated by a specialist

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Asthmatics treated by allergists have better outcomes than those treated by primary care providers, according to a study published in the December issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Michael Schatz, M.D., of the Department of Allergy at Kaiser-Permanente Medical Center in San Diego, and colleagues surveyed 3,568 patients with persistent asthma. Of these, 1,679 (47.1%) received care from a primary care provider, 884 (24.8%) from an allergist and 195 (5.5%) from a pulmonologist. A total of 693 (19.4%) reported no regular source of asthma care.

Compared to patients of primary care providers, the researchers found that patients of allergists reported a significantly higher quality of life, fewer asthma control problems, fewer severe symptoms, higher satisfaction with care and greater self-management knowledge. "Patients of allergists were less likely than patients of primary care providers to require an asthma hospitalization (odds ratio 0.45) or unscheduled visit (OR 0.71) and to overuse beta-agonists (OR 0.47), and were more likely to receive inhaled steroids (OR 1.81) during their past year," the report indicates. The investigators found no significant differences in patients cared for by allergists and those cared for by pulmonologists.

"These data can be used by patients, payers, insurers and providers to improve outcomes for this common medical problem," the authors conclude.

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