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Potential effects of correction of inaccuracies of the mini-Wright peak expiratory flow meter on the use of an asthma self-management plan.
  1. J F Miles,
  2. W Tunnicliffe,
  3. R M Cayton,
  4. J G Ayres,
  5. M R Miller
  1. Chest Research Institute, Heartlands Hospital, Birmingham, UK.


    BACKGROUND: Patient self-management plans for asthma use peak expiratory flow (PEF) meter readings for decisions on adjusting asthma treatment. PEF meters have been shown to be inaccurate and the effect of this inaccuracy on such treatment plans has been determined. METHODS: PEF measurements were made by 127 severe asthmatic patients at least twice a day for at least two weeks using a mini-Wright meter. The daily variation from "best" PEF and the within day PEF variability were calculated before and after correction for the meter's known inaccuracy. The effect of this data correction on the number of days when trigger points were reached for changing asthma therapy was then determined. RESULTS: Continuous PEF readings were available from 114 subjects with a median of 157.5 days of data per subject (range 15-489 days). Correction of the PEF data led to the number of days of satisfactory asthma control being reduced in 72% of subjects with just one subject showing an increase in satisfactory control. Data correction reduced the percentage of total days of satisfactory control from 46% to 36% of days, and increased the days requiring more inhaled steroids from 33% to 36%. The days on which a course of oral corticosteroids was required increased from 16% to 23%. CONCLUSIONS: The accuracy of PEF meters significantly influences the interpretation of currently used asthma self-management plans. Managing asthma with the corrected PEF data would have increased the amount of treatment received by these patients since the severity of the asthma was underestimated by the raw data.

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