by M Levy, S Hilton, G Barnes and I Charlton; 2002. Sydney: McGraw-Hill. pp. xi + 242; includes index. Price: AU$29.95.

This English publication has been well ‘Australianised’ by Dr Ian Charlton, a general practitioner (GP) with a major interest in asthma, who is also a member of the Asthma Group of the National Asthma Council (NAC) Australia. This version has therefore been designed to complement the NAC Asthma Management Guidelines and the principles of the 6-step Asthma Management Plan, as well as the recently launched 3-plus Visit Plan designed to enhance GP management of asthma.

As the introduction suggests, the aim of the book is to provide the patient ‘with information and practical tips which will enable you to manage your asthma, reduce the problems it produces for you and to lead a life that is not restricted by it’. As the subtitle of the book (‘all your questions answered about living with asthma’) indicates, a question and answer format has been adopted for the bulk of the information, although this is preceded by a short summary at the beginning of each chapter. The questions have been patient generated and overall the information supplied in the answers is sound, up-to-date and scientifically based, although occasionally it is perhaps too simplistic or even misleading. The question and answer format does lead to some repetitiveness in the questions, although the consistency of the responses is likely to be an aid to reinforcement of the information. There is also a nice balance between the factual information and the more practical issues surrounding asthma and its management. The content is comprehensive with chapters on: What is asthma?, Treatment, Monitoring and Control, Life with Asthma, Children and Asthma, Emergencies, Non-medical Treatments for Asthma, and Self-help for Asthma. There is significant paediatric content throughout all the chapters and the chapter on ‘Children and Asthma’ covers some specific issues of childhood asthma, principally relating to differing ages.

While a broad range of childhood asthma management issues is covered by the questions throughout the book, I would have liked to see more on adolescents and young adults, as this is clearly a high-risk time for non-adherence as well as asthma deaths. The book also contains a useful glossary of medical terms as well as several appendices including pictures of the various asthma medications, useful contact addresses, information about the NAC and examples of the asthma action plan for both adults and young people.

In summary, I believe that ‘Asthma at your Fingertips’ will provide a useful source of information for patients and families living with asthma. Its purchase price represents good value for money for those wanting to improve their knowledge of asthma and its management. It is also a useful adjunct to the current initiatives designed to improve asthma management and hopefully reduce asthma morbidity in Australia.