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Obstructive lung diseases and inhaler treatment: results from a national public pragmatic survey

Fulvio Braido1*, Ilaria Baiardini1, Massimo Sumberesi2, Francesco Blasi3 and Giorgio Walter Canonica1

Author Affiliations

1 Allergy and Respiratory Diseases Clinic, DIMI, University of Genoa, IRCCS AOU San Martino-IST, Genoa, Italy

2 Managing Director, Doxa Marketing Advice, Milan, Italy

3 Department of Pathophysiology and Transplantation, Università degli Studi di Milano, IRCCS Fondazione Ca’ Granda, Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Via Francesco Sforza, Milan 35, 20122, Italy

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Respiratory Research 2013, 14:94  doi:10.1186/1465-9921-14-94

Published: 22 September 2013



The opinions held by the general population on obstructive lung disease and inhaler devices could influence asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) management and treatment adherence.

The aim of the present public pragmatic survey was to evaluate the opinions, beliefs and perceptions of Italian people with respect to respiratory diseases as well as their perspectives on the use of inhaler devices.


This survey was conducted on a group of 2,008 individuals forming a representative sample of the Italian population aged 15 years and over. It was based on personal interviews that were administered in the homes of the respondents using a structured questionnaire that took approximately 30 minutes.


Awareness of obstructive lung diseases is poor. Asthma, but not COPD, was perceived as a common and increasingly prevalent disease by the majority of the interviewees. Allergy, pollution and smoking were considered to be responsible for both of these diseases. The rates at which the respondents claimed to be suffering from asthma and COPD were lower than expected (4% and 2%, respectively). Inhaled drugs were recognised as the main treatment by 65% of the respondents. The great majority of respondents attributed positive characteristics to the inhaler device (e.g., safety, reliability, effectiveness, ease of use and practicality). Compared to people who have never used inhaler devices, individuals who suffer from asthma or COPD were more confident in their use and showed a greater belief in their safety, reliability and trustworthiness. People older than 64 years showed less attention to the properties of these devices.


The present results highlight the need for public interventions aimed at improving awareness of obstructive lung disease and reveal various potentialities and critical issues for inhaler device usage. Switching of devices was considered feasible by most of the interviewees, as long as the choice is carefully explained by their physician.