Woolcock Institute of Medical Research

PhD Opportunities
Reducing the burden of asthma in the community

Reducing the burden of asthma in the community

Poor asthma control continues to be a major unaddressed issue for a majority of people with asthma despite the availability of guidelines, tools, processes and support networks for patients. The reasons for this are multifactorial and embedded within a complex web of disease related issues, health care provider-related factors and patient related understanding, beliefs, concerns and behaviours. Much effort has been targeted towards understanding the disease-related and patient-related factors driving poor asthma control as it presented in the primary care general practice and the tertiary care environments, despite the fact that the most frequented health care provider is the pharmacist and that reliever asthma medications, used by all people with asthma, can be purchase din the pharmacy without a doctor’s prescription.

This research embraces a less-common approach to knowledge generation, i.e. it focuses on patients in the community pharmacy setting.

From this study new knowledge about the management of asthma, from a patient-driven perspective will be uncovered. Opportunities to optimise medication management will be identified and early introduction of anti-inflammatory treatment at the community pharmacy level will be tested.

Program Type: Honours, Masters of Philosophy, Doctor of Philosophy programs.

Research Group: Quality Use of Respiratory Medicines Group.

Supervisors: Professor Sinthia Bosnic-Anticevich and the Quality Use of Respiratory Medicines Group in collaboration with international collaborators will supervise the candidate.

Synopsis and Research Plan: This research primarily involves quantitative methodologies (both cross-sectional and/or longitudinal, observational and/or interventional). The scope of the research plan is dependent on the category of candidature.

This study focuses on collecting real world data associated with Reliever medication (short-acting beta agonist therapy, aka SABA e.g Ventolin) purchase and use in community pharmacy. SABA medications in Australia are available over the counter, without the need for a prescription, hence this study provides us with the unique opportunity to determine the characteristics of patients who use and overuse SABA medication and the reasons behind it. From the gathered information, we will be able to determine the proportion of patients that have poor asthma management who might not ever have been reviewed by a physician and those that should be on a ICS medication. Patients behaviors and attitudes as they relate to asthma medication use will be identified, and a structured risk assessment tool will be developed. This risk assessment tool will be implemented and evaluated in terms of patient asthma medication management and disease control. i.e. the later part of this research will take the form of a real-life control versus intervention clinical study.

Significance: The data collected from this study will enable us to categorise SABA users based on not only their use of SABA but also the factors driving their SABA use. From this support tools for the pharmacist will be developed, including risk assessment tools, which can be used to identify patients at risk of future poorly controlled disease. These support tools will also enable the pharmacist to take a stratified approach to asthma management and counselling and will help to identify people with mild asthma who are candidates for low dose preventer treatment. 

Funding: Funding is currently being sought for this program of research.

Candidate: A healthcare professional background is favourable but not essential.

Contact: Professor Sinthia Bosnic-Anticevich, Sinthia.bosnic-anticevich@sydney.edu.au, 9114 0145 or 0414 015 614.

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