Aims: The study aimed to determine how childhood asthma is managed in Western Australia by general practitioners (GPs) and specialist paediatricians.
Methods: A questionnaire survey was sent to 992 GPs and specialist paediatricians, asking about practice and preferences regarding maintenance management of childhood asthma and treatment of acute asthma. Questions about asthma in infants, pre-school and school-aged children were asked separately.
Results: The overall response rate was 24.7%, with 188/878 (21.4%) of GPs and 44/62 (71.0%) of paediatricians returning the questionnaire. The decision to start maintenance therapy was generally based on symptom frequency and severity. The first choice for maintenance treatment in all age groups was inhaled corticosteroids (ICS). The second most common treatment varied according to age group, with short-acting β2-agonist (SBA) preferred for infants, montelukast or short-acting β2-agonist for pre-schoolers and combination therapy (ICS + long action β2-agonist) for school-aged children. Objective monitoring of lung function with peak flow or spirometry, was used by 40% of GPs and 59% of paediatricians. Acute asthma was primarily managed with inhaled salbutamol and oral corticosteroids. There were few differences in treatment choice between GPs and paediatricians. Many GPs indicated that they did not treat asthma in infants without specialist consultation.
Conclusions: These data show good compliance by the minority of GPs responding to the survey and by paediatricians practising in Western Australia with current Australian asthma management guidelines. Major differences in treatment preferences between the groups were not detected.