An asthma patient’s wish

Dear Doctor,

Having asthma can be scary and stressful. I have to remember to take my preventatives daily, to carry my reliever inhaler with me wherever I go, and to make sure friends and family know what to do if I have an attack.

Despite knowing the pathophysiology of asthma and the ‘correct response’ in the event of an attack, not being able to breathe is terrifying, and it makes me panic.

Whilst I may be the 20th patient you have seen today, I ask you to remember that I live with this condition every day, and that I am coming to you to ask for help in reducing the impact of asthma on my life.

It is important to me that we spend time discussing my treatment, working together to ensure that we come up with a treatment plan best suited to me. If I am concerned about taking steroids, I want you to take my concerns seriously and not be brushed off because ‘this is the best treatment’.

patient describing her symptoms to doctor

Thank you for listening

Although treatment plans are based on guidelines derived from population data, I am an individual and I would like to be treated accordingly. I know my asthma better than anyone, and I need you to listen so that you can understand it too.

I would like to see personalized medicine play a huge role in the future of asthma treatment, with you as a GP focusing on making the connection between one particular patient and the appropriate evidence-based management. [1]

If I am not happy with my treatment plan, it is less likely that I will comply with it, and this will result in more stress and poorly controlled asthma. Good GP-patient communication is vital for optimal treatment compliance and success. [2]

Please be realistic what you ask of me. It may be true that giving away my pets and not using cleaning products would improve my asthma [3], but my pets are part of my family, and the cleaning needs to be done!

I would like to make use of technological solutions to help manage my asthma. Smart inhalers could help us track my medication usage and provide you with valuable data to inform my treatment, and reminder apps can help me remember my medication. [3] So please participate in studies and prescribe new treatments when they become available.

Most of all, thank you for for listening.

Your patient Jenny

If you would like to know more about how physician training programmes based on patient needs can improve treatment success, please contact us at


1. Charriot, J. et al, 2016. European Respiratory Review; 5: 77-92; DOI: 10.1183/16000617.0069-2015 [Accessed 5th March 2020]

2. Lingner, H. et al, 2017. BMC Pulmonary Medicine:17(13). [Accessed 5th March 2020]

3. Asthma UK, 2020. [Accessed 5th March 2020]