Inappropriate overuse of inhaled corticosteroids for COPD patients: impact on health costs and health status

01 Jun 2011
Respiratory conditions
  • COPD
Respiratory topics
  • Disease management
Type of resource
Peer-reviewed article
de Miguel-Díez J, Carrasco-Garrido P, Rejas-Gutierrez J, Martín-Centeno A, Gobartt-Vázquez E, Hernandez-Barrera V, Gil de MA, Jimenez-Garcia R


The aim of this study was to evaluate the relationship between inappropriate overuse of inhaled corticosteroids and self-reported health status and the annual cost of patients with stable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) recruited in the primary-care setting. An observational, crossover, descriptive study was conducted. Patients with stable COPD and aged ≥40 years, evaluated in primary care, were included. Data collected were demographic variables, clinical characteristics, self-reported health status (SF-12), the severity of the illness, treatment, and health-care resource utilization in the past year. The patients were recruited during a period of 3 months (from January 1 to March 31, 2003). Use was considered inappropriate when corticosteroids were prescribed by physicians for patients not meeting criteria for its use as recommended in guidelines. A total of 10,711 patients [75.6% males; mean age = 67.1 (SD = 9.66) years] were evaluated. Disease severity was mild in 35.5% of the cases, moderate in 53.4%, and severe in 11.2%. Among them, 3,697 (34.5%) subjects were prescribed inhaled corticosteroids or drug combinations containing such therapies, with a rate of inappropriate use of 18.2%. Physical health status was significantly lower among patients showing inappropriate corticosteroids use: 37.35 (SD = 9.53) vs. 40.7 (SD = 9.80) (p < 0.05). The annual cost per patient of COPD management was significantly higher in the group with inappropriate inhaled corticosteroids use: 1,590 (SD = 1,834) vs. 1,157 (SD = 1,536) (p < 0.05). Factors statistically associated with inappropriate use of corticosteroids were educational attainment [OR: 2.77 (95% CI: 1.36-5.63) for nonuniversity training], a history of heart disease [OR: 1.42 (95% CI: 1.02-1.97)], depression [OR: 1.47 (95% CI: 1.05-2.05)], any allergy [OR 1.69 (95% CI: 1.13-2.54)], and physical health status [OR 0.97 (95% CI: 0.96-0.98)]. Lack of adherence to the recommended criteria for using inhaled corticosteroids therapy in the management of COPD patients was associated with lower self-reported health status and higher costs. Factors statistically associated with inappropriate use of corticosteroids were educational attainment, a history of heart disease, depression, any allergy, and physical health status.