New clinical ‘toolkit’ to help nail severe asthma management


Date: 29.03.2018

A new clinical ‘toolkit’ designed to improve the management of severe asthma has been launched at the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand’s Annual Scientific Meeting in Adelaide.

As a comprehensive and independent online resource, it gives clinicians the latest treatment information to optimise care for patients with severe asthma.

Fewer than 10 per cent of people with asthma have severe disease yet they account for more than 60 per cent of all asthma-related healthcare costs due to hospitalisations for severe attacks and symptoms.

Project co-leader Professor Vanessa McDonald*, who launched the toolkit, said there was an urgent and growing need to deliver effective care for people with severe asthma.

“This toolkit will help to meet that need by addressing a gap in existing evidence-based resources for clinicians in both primary and specialist care settings,” she says.

“Many of the contemporary asthma messages and resources are not tailored for people with severe asthma. New targeted therapies are being developed as we learn more about the underlying mechanisms of asthma, and there’s a need to translate these exciting advances into the clinic.

“In essence, the toolkit was designed by clinicians for clinicians. We invited national and international experts, as well as patients and advocate groups, to help design, develop and review the content.”

The Centre of Excellence in Severe Asthma, based at the Hunter Medical Research Institute in Newcastle, conceived and formulated the toolkit with funding by the National Health and Medical Research Council.

Professor Peter Gibson**, a respiratory physician and scientist who also led the initiative, says the toolkit’s various modules put immediate information at the fingertips of clinicians while also serving as a long-term education resource.

“Severe asthma represents a different disease, placing a large burden on patients, families and society,” Professor Gibson said.

“It responds poorly to inhaled therapies and results in more frequent, and more severe, attacks that can cause hospitalisation or even death.

“We’ve included different modules in the toolkit, some of which include management, medications, comorbidities, diagnosis and assessment, paediatrics, along with a section on living with severe asthma. We believe this will be of interest both nationally and internationally.”

The Severe Asthma Toolkit is available An overview video is available at

* Professor Vanessa McDonald is co-director of the NHMRC Centre of Excellence in Severe Asthma and research leader in the Centre for Healthy Lungs and School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Newcastle (UON), researching in conjunction with the HMRI’s VIVA Program. She is also a clinical academic nurse consultant in the Department of Respiratory and Sleep Medicine at John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle.

** Professor Peter Gibsonis a Hunter New England Health respiratory physician, co-director of the HMRI VIVA program and co-director of the UON Priority Research Centre Healthy Lungs.

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