NIHR | Manchester Biomedical Research Centre

Addressing Health Inequalities – Improving asthma care by ensuring each patient is on the right treatment, at the right time

Asthma is a common long-term lung condition, affecting one in 11 people in the UK.

People with asthma often have sensitive, inflamed airways. However, there is no gold standard diagnostic test for asthma, and UK guidelines differ.

The lack of a definitive diagnostic tool could explain why there are high rates of both under and over diagnosis of asthma. Of the 5.4 million people in the UK currently receiving asthma treatment, many may have started treatment without diagnostic tests.

Asthma is more prevalent in people experiencing social inequality, as these populations are often exposed to more of the environmental triggers of asthma, such as air pollution, and poor quality housing. In addition, hospital admissions with asthma are strongly associated with the Government’s Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) score of where patients live.

Addressing Health Inequalities – Improving asthma care by ensuring each patient is on the right treatment, at the right time

The project:

Our Manchester BRC Respiratory theme researchers set up the ‘Rapid Access Diagnostics for Asthma’ (RADicA) study clinic, with the aim out of finding the best way to diagnose asthma. Researchers hope that, in turn, these findings will lead to improvements in care, by getting each patient on the right treatment, at the right time for them.

The team worked with Vocal – the team that connects people and health research for everyone’s benefit – and Patient Participation Group (PPGs). These PPGs were able to provide insight into recruitment and advise on making the language accessible in the patient information.

Our Respiratory Theme researchers worked with GP surgeries across Greater Manchester, to ensure that people from more deprived areas could have the opportunity to take part in this research.

By installing a digital ‘pop-up’ prompt, patients with possible asthma could be referred to the RADicA study when in consultation with the GP. As a result, 58.5 per cent of people recruited to the study to date, are from more deprived communities.

A researcher perspective:

By approaching patients through their GPs, we have been able to recruit a wide range of people and include those from more deprived areas in Greater Manchester. We believe they are participants who may not have usually considered taking part in research, but who were able to feel reassured that it was right for them because it was recommended to them by their own GP. With this approach our study is more representative of our local populations and includes participants who are impacted most by this condition. We hope this will provide invaluable information to help shape future asthma care”.

Professor Clare Murray

Consultant Respiratory Paediatrician at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital and Manchester BRC Asthma Programme Associate Lead

Initiatives like RADicA are essential in improving health inequalities within communities. I had respiratory problems for years which I just accepted as the focus was on my cough. When I did eventually get diagnosed with asthma too, and on the correct treatment to manage it, my quality of life improved.”

Caroline Turner

Patient and Public Involvement Contributor