In developing and implementing educational interventions for patients, consideration should be given to identifying populations such as those with severe asthma who are more motivated and more likely to benefit from intervention.
Recommendation: Identify population groups most likely to benefit from educational and allergen-avoidance interventions. This effort should be based on an understanding of what allergens serve as risk factors for different individuals.
Socioeconomic, educational, and ethnic characteristics are important variables that should be considered in developing effective educational intervention programs. Programs that focus on these factors in tailoring self-management programs should greatly enhance both the acquisition and the performance of self-management competencies.
Recommendation: Develop focused educational programs for allergic populations with different socioeconomic and educational characteristics. Such programs should help patients:
understand allergic-disease risk factors;
predict the occurrence of such risk factors;
adopt behaviors required to avoid or control these factors; and
develop self-management skills to translate and use the knowledge they acquire to control allergic risk factors in different contexts.
A relapse prevention component should be included in these programs as well as follow-up studies to assess patient acquisition of allergy-related knowledge and the need for additional educational efforts.
Curricula vary in medical schools, often with little focus given to the topic of allergy diagnosis, prevention, and control—an unfortunate situation that should be corrected, especially considering the relationship of allergy to asthma. In addition, improved medical education is important because the majority of health care of the allergic patient is delivered by primary care providers, and the primary care provider is often the patient's main source of information about allergy control.
Recommendation: Incorporate the diagnosis and management of allergic diseases in the curricula and training materials for medical school students, residents in primary care practice, and subspecialists