High Use of SABAs is Associated with Higher Exacerbation Rate in Dutch Patients with Asthma

Anna Jetske Baron, Bertine M. J. Flokstra-de Blok*, Huib A. M. Kerstjens, Gineke Koopnnans-Klein, David B. Price, Andrea A. Sellink, Ioanna Tsiligianni, Janwillem W. H. Kocks

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
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Purpose: Many patients with asthma still have insufficient disease control, despite the availability of effective treatment options. A substantial proportion of patients appear to rely more on short-acting beta2-agonist (SABA) rather than on anti-inflammatory maintenance treatment. The aim of this study was to describe differences in indicators of asthma symptoms and exacerbations among patients using more or less SABA than the guideline-recommended threshold of <3 times/week.

Patients and Methods: Data from Dutch respondents in the European REcognise Asthma and LInk to Symptoms and Experience (REALISE) survey were used in this post hoc analysis. The survey included asthma patients aged 18-50 years with at least two prescriptions for their asthma in the past two years. SABA use was categorized into two groups: <3 (low-SABA users) or ≥3 (high-SABA users) times in the last week.

Results: Of the 736 asthma patients, 21% did not use SABA and 19% used SABA 1 to 2 times (all low SABA users) and 60% used SABA ≥3 times (high SABA users) in the last week. The majority of high and low SABA users also reported using an ICS-containing treatment. Significant differences were found for all indicators related to exacerbations (p<0.001): high SABA users more frequently used antibiotics and oral steroids, more frequently visited the emergency departments or needed an overnight hospital stay. Indicators of asthma symptoms were not significantly different between both groups.

Conclusion: The majority of a Dutch asthmatic population reported high SABA use and had frequent moderate/severe exacerbations. More effective interventions are needed to change healthcare providers' and patients' behaviours to improve care and reduce SABA (over)use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)851-861
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of asthma and allergy
Publication statusPublished - 12-Jul-2021


  • asthma
  • short acting beta2-agonist
  • SABA
  • primary health care
  • adverse effects
  • guidelines


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