Systematic Assessment for Difficult and Severe Asthma Improves Outcomes and Halves Oral Corticosteroid Burden Independent of Monoclonal Biologic Use

Eve Denton, Joy Lee, Tunn Ren Tay, Naghmeh Radhakrishna, Fiona Hore-Lacy, Anna Mackay, Ryan Hoy, Eli Dabscheck, Robyn E. O'Hehir, Mark Hew

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Background: Guidelines endorse systematic assessment for severe asthma, with data indicating benefit across multiple outcome domains. Objective: We examined which patients respond to systematic assessment and whether oral corticosteroid burden can be decreased independent of monoclonal biologic use. Methods: Specialist-referred patients are assessed systematically for difficult asthma at our center. We undertook a responder analysis for improvements in the domains of symptom control, quality of life, exacerbations, and airflow obstruction, assessed 6 months after initial assessment. Multivariate analyses were performed for each domain to identify predictors of response. Changes in oral corticosteroid burden were also measured, stratified by monoclonal biologics commenced during assessment. Results: Among 161 patients assessed systematically, 64% had a reduction in exacerbations, 54% achieved minimum clinically important differences for both symptom control and quality of life, and 40% increased their forced expiratory volume in 1 second by ≥100 mL. Altogether, 87% of patients with asthma improved in at least 1 domain. The most consistent predictor of response across domains was poorer baseline asthma status. There was a substantial reduction in mean chronic oral corticosteroid dose (11-5 mg, n = 46, P < .001), even after excluding 7 patients commenced on monoclonal biologics (11-5.6 mg, n = 39, P < .001). Conclusions: Almost 90% of patients undergoing systematic assessment for difficult asthma improve significantly in at least 1 key asthma outcome, with few reliable predictors of response. The halving of oral corticosteroid burden during systematic assessment is independent of, and comparable in magnitude with, that achieved by monoclonal biologics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1616-1624
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • Asthma guidelines
  • Difficult asthma
  • Exacerbations
  • Protocolized assessment
  • Severe asthma
  • Systematic assessment

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