HQC researcher participates in project that examines role of patient education in managing asthma, COPD

Posted on Sep 11 2015 | 3064 views

HQC Researcher Meric Osman

A new journal article co-authored by Health Quality Council (HQC) researcher Meric Osman1 examines the role of patient education intervention programs in the management of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The open-access article, entitled “The effects of patient education programs on medication use among asthma and COPD patients: a propensity score matching with a difference-in-difference regression approach”, was published in August 2015 in the journal BMC Health Services Research2.

Osman said the project was a great example of some of HQC’s values in action.

“HQC values collaboration, and there was strong collaboration with the Lung Association of Saskatchewan and the University of Saskatchewan, through Dr. Nazmi Sari,” said Osman.

“As well, the focus of this project was on improving care for patients and producing knowledge for action, which are also important HQC values.”

The research shows that patient education programs are very important in chronic disease management. When patients were provided with the appropriate patient education, on average they were dispensed more chronic management drugs and could better manage their diseases. In addition, the results suggest that the incremental cost of the patient education intervention due to higher utilization of chronic management drugs is lower than the average cost of one emergency visit for this patient group. This implies that this intervention would create net savings to the health system if less than one Emergency Department visit per patient could be avoided – even if there is no impact on other health outcomes.

Previous evidence has shown that adherence to medication is a key factor in successfully managing chronic conditions such as COPD and asthma, but poor adherence is common among this patient group. As a result, to improve patient care, the Lung Association of Saskatchewan “implemented an intervention by providing access to effective and high quality asthma and COPD education for both patients and health care professionals along with increasing access to spirometry,” the research paper stated. Spirometry is a test used to diagnose conditions such as asthma and COPD.

The researchers compared the patients receiving the intervention with a control group that was created at HQC by using administrative health data spanning six years before the intervention. The results indicated that chronic disease management medication use was higher for the intervention group than the control group – and this higher utilization was seen even four years after the invention.

“The study suggests that effective patient education and increasing access to spirometry increases the utilization of chronic disease management drugs among asthma and COPD patients,” the paper states.

The researchers concluded that interventions with a patient education focus may also save health care dollars by providing better disease management among asthma and COPD patients.


1. Meric Osman obtained a Master of Arts degree in economics with a specialization in health economics. He began working on this project during his graduate studies at the University of Saskatchewan. Upon joining HQC as a researcher, Osman continued working on this project. He would like to thank the Mathematics of Information Technology and Complex Systems (MITACS) and Dr. Brian Graham, CEO of the Lung Association of Saskatchewan, for their financial support. He also would like to thank Dr. Gary Teare, CEO of HQC, for his feedback and insightful comments for the manuscript.


2. Sari, N., and Osman, M. 2015. The effects of patient education programs on medication use among asthma and COPD patients: a propensity score matching with a difference-in-difference regression approach. BMC Health Services Research 15(1): Article 332, 9 pages (online appendix: 28 pages).

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