Aim: Asthma treatment according to guidelines fails frequently, through patients' nonadherence to doctors' advice. This study aimed to explore how differences in asthma care influence parents' perceptions to inhaled corticosteroids (ICS).
Methods: We conducted six semistructured focus groups, including 44 parents of asthmatic children (2-12 years of age, treated in primary or specialist care). Verbatim transcripts were analysed with standard qualitative research methods.
Results: Parents decided deliberately whether ongoing ICS use was useful for their child. This decision was based on their perceptions about illness and medication. In primary care, this issue was hardly ever discussed with the health care provider because regular scheduled follow-up was unusual. In specialist care, regular scheduled follow-up was usual, and parental perceptions about illness and medication were discussed and modified when needed. Parent-reported adherence was lower in primary care than in specialist care.
Conclusion: This focus group study illustrates how strongly parental perceptions of illness and medication influence adherence to health care providers' advice and that such perceptions can be modified within a strong doctor-patient partnership, improving adherence.