Background: Repeated oral corticosteroid use indicates uncontrolled disease among asthma patients, and referral for asthma specialist assessment is recommended. We aimed to describe trends and predictors associated with specialist contacts among young adults with asthma and repeated oral corticosteroid use.
Methods: Individuals aged 18-45 years with two or more dispensed asthma medication prescriptions and two dispended oral corticosteroid prescriptions (including short-term and long-term treatments) within 12 months during 1999-2018 were identified by use of Danish healthcare registers. The frequency of specialist contacts within 1 year of follow-up was assessed among individuals without previous specialist contacts within 5 years of inclusion. Factors associated with specialist contact were identified using logistic regression models. Furthermore, oral corticosteroid prescriber sources were assessed.
Results: For the 11 223 individuals included, 2444 (22%) had previous specialist-contact care within 5 years prior of inclusion, and additionally 926 (8.3%) within 1 year of follow-up. Among those without previous specialist contacts (n=8779), the frequency of incident specialist contacts within 1 year of follow-up increased from 6.3% in 1999 to 18% in 2017. Factors associated with incident specialist contacts included dispensing ≥12 short-acting β-agonist canisters and previous asthma-related emergency department visits and hospitalisations. The majority of oral corticosteroid prescriptions at baseline (71%) were prescribed by general practitioners, although with decreasing proportions from 1999 to 2018.
Conclusions: The majority (70%) of young adults with asthma and repeated oral corticosteroid use do not seem to receive specialist assessment in Denmark. This highlights a potential room for improvement in the patient referral pathway for at-risk asthma patients.