Inter-professional learning has been promoted as the solution to many clinical management issues. One such issue is the correct use of asthma inhaler devices. Up to 80% of people with asthma use their inhaler device incorrectly. The implications of this are poor asthma control and quality of life. Correct inhaler technique can be taught, however these educational instructions need to be repeated if correct technique is to be maintained. It is important to maximise the opportunities to deliver this education in primary care. In light of this, it is important to explore how health care providers, in particular pharmacists and general medical practitioners, can work together in delivering inhaler technique education to patients, over time. Therefore, there is a need to develop and evaluate effective inter-professional education, which will address the need to educate patients in the correct use of their inhalers as well as equip health care professionals with skills to engage in collaborative relationships with each other.
This mixed methods study involves the development and evaluation of three modules of continuing education, Model 1, Model 2 and Model 3. A fourth group, Model 4, acting as a control.
Model 1 consists of face-to-face continuing professional education on asthma inhaler technique, aimed at pharmacists, general medical practitioners and their practice nurses.
Model 2 is an electronic online continuing education module based on Model 1 principles.
Model 3 is also based on asthma inhaler technique education but employs a learning intervention targeting health care professional relationships and is based on sociocultural theory.
This study took the form of a parallel group, repeated measure design. Following the completion of continuing professional education, health care professionals recruited people with asthma and followed them up for 6 months. During this period, inhaler device technique training was delivered and data on patient inhaler technique, clinical and humanistic outcomes were collected. Outcomes related to professional collaborative relationships were also measured.
Challenges presented included the requirement of significant financial resources for development of study materials and limited availability of validated tools to measure health care professional collaboration over time.