Adolescents and asthma: Why bother with our meds?

David R. Naimi, Tovia G. Freedman, Kenneth R. Ginsburg, Daniel Bogen, Cynthia S. Rand, Andrea J. Apter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Background: Adherence to inhaled steroid regimens for asthma is poor in adults and children. Although it is assumed that nonadherence contributes to morbidity in older adolescents, investigation is limited. Objective: We sought to describe adherence to preventive asthma medications and explore relevant beliefs and attitudes in older urban adolescents, including their ideas for improving adherence. Methods: Quantitative and qualitative methods were used to collect data from a convenience sample of adolescents with asthma previously prescribed fluticasone/salmeterol (F/S). Two semistructured face-to-face interviews were conducted 1 month apart and analyzed for themes. F/S use was electronically monitored between visits and calculated as the number of actuations divided by the number of inhalations prescribed. Results: Forty participants, (15-18 years of age, 19 female subjects, 30 black/African American subjects, 11 Medicaid-insured subjects, and 24 previously hospitalized for asthma) with a median FEV1 of 98% of predicted value (range, 67% to 127%) had median adherence of 43% (range, 4% to 89%). Adherence was not associated with FEV1 or emergency department visits. Themes emerged from interviews as follows. Teens (1) take F/S inconsistently; (2) believe F/S is "supposed to help me breathe"; (3) dislike its taste; (4) are "too busy" and "forget"; and (5) recommend "reminder" solutions to poor adherence. Twenty percent believed that taking F/S was unnecessary, and another 18% expressed ambivalence about its benefits. Conclusion: Adherence was poor. Examining and acknowledging health beliefs of older teens in the context of their complicated lives might facilitate discussions about self-management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1335-1341
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Asthma
  • adherence
  • adolescent
  • inhaled corticosteroid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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