WEDNESDAY, June 30, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Specialist care for severe asthma is underutilized, with fewer than four in 10 patients with severe asthma seeking care, according to a study published online June 17 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice.

Jessica F. Most, M.D., from Jefferson Health/National Jewish Health in Philadelphia, and colleagues quantified the frequency of asthma specialist visits (2015 through 2017) among 54,332 U.S. patients with severe asthma (≥6 years of age) and identified patient and clinical characteristics associated with specialist visits.

The researchers found that 38.2 percent of patients had one or more specialist visit over two years. Specialist visits were predicted by asthma exacerbation frequency, younger age, and allergy/respiratory comorbidity burden. Lower prevalence of asthma exacerbations (37.7 versus 49.4 percent) was seen following the first observed specialist visit. Further, rescue inhaler use, hospitalizations, and emergency department visits were lower during the 12 months after the first specialist visit.

“Specialist care is important for managing any condition, especially a chronic one such as severe asthma,” Most said in a statement. “Efforts should be made to increase specialist referrals, especially among populations who are less likely to seek out care from an allergist/immunologist or pulmonologist.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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