European Respiratory Society


The purpose of the present study was to investigate whether criteria associated with assignment of asthma patients between general practice (GP) care alone, integrated care (shared between GP care and hospital clinic) or conventional specialist review could be identified, and whether outcomes for these patients differed over the next 12 months. Seven hundred and sixty four patients with a diagnosis of asthma and previously assigned to either integrated care or clinic care were reviewed after 1 year and reassigned. These patients were then followed for another 12 months and clinical data were collected over this time. After 12 months in clinic care or integrated care, assignment to integrated care was predicted by previous participation in integrated care (OR 2.94), patient preference for integrated care (OR 3.7), no admission (OR 1.56), fewer steroid courses during the previous year (OR 0.88) and nonattendance at review (OR 0.43) in the previous 12 months. Patient discharge to GP care was predicted by higher level of forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) (OR 1.49), lower number of GP consultations for troublesome asthma (OR 0.78), and nonattendance for review in the preceding year (OR 2.15). In the following 12 months, the three groups of patients differed significantly in hospital admissions (Discharged = 0.008; Integrated = 0.12; Clinic = 0.31), bronchodilators prescribed (Discharged = 8.5; Integrated = 10.2; Clinic = 13.9), GP consultations (Discharged = 1.3; Integrated = 3.0; Clinic = 4.1) and oral steroid courses (Discharged = 0.62; Integrated = 1.7; Clinic = 2.4). Patients assigned to integrated care, clinic care or discharged to general practice care form three distinct patient populations differing retrospectively and prospectively in morbidity and admission risk. In particular, patients assigned to integrated care fall midway in risk and morbidity between those discharged or those retained in clinic care. These results suggest that integrated care provides general practitioners with a system of management for asthma patients, for whom they do not wish frequent specialist review but who they do not believe can safely be discharged to general practice care only.