Asthma Programme in Finland: high consensus between general practitioners and pulmonologists on the contents of an asthma referral letter
- Disease management
The purpose of the present study was to define quality criteria for an asthma referral letter using a national co-operative effort between general practitioners and pulmonologists.
A consensus-seeking expert panel representing primary and secondary health care merged evidence from the literature and existing national and local asthma programmes to produce 19 provisional criteria to be included in an asthma referral letter. These criteria were contained within a national questionnaire review which was sent out to groups of Finnish physicians. The target groups for the review were all chief pulmonologists in specialist care (n = 32), and representatives of all Finnish health centres (n = 283) - either the chief physician (n = 143) or the local asthma co-ordinating physician (n = 140).
The overall response rate to the national questionnaire study was 75%. The three groups of responding physicians had very similar gradings on the necessity of the 19 provisional criteria, most of which were considered very necessary. 14 final disease-specific criteria for an asthma referral letter were derived as a result of this study.
The main result of this study is an agreed data set of essential information that needs to be included in an asthma referral letter. Importantly these criteria were developed by general practitioners and pulmonologists together.