Background: The Global Initiative for Asthma and National Asthma Education and Prevention Program recently made paradigm-shifting recommendations regarding inhaler management in asthma. The Global Initiative for Asthma now recommends that combination inhaled corticosteroid (ICS)-formoterol inhalers replace short-acting β-agonists as the preferred reliever therapy at all steps of asthma management. Although the most recent guidelines of the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program did not review reliever ICS-formoterol usage in mild asthma, they similarly recommended single maintenance and reliever therapy (SMART) at steps 3 and 4 of asthma management. Despite these recommendations, many clinicians—particularly in the United States—are not prescribing new inhaler paradigms. Clinician-level reasons for this implementation gap remain largely unexplored. Objective: To gain an in-depth understanding of the facilitators and barriers to prescribing reliever ICS-formoterol inhalers and SMART in the United States. Methods: Community and academic primary care providers, pulmonologists, and allergists who reported regularly caring for adults with asthma were interviewed. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, qualitatively coded, and analyzed using the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research. Interviews were continued until theme saturation. Results: Among 20 interviewed clinicians, only 6 clinicians described regularly prescribing ICS-formoterol inhalers as a reliever inhaler (either alone or within SMART). Significant barriers to new inhaler approaches included concerns surrounding a lack of Food and Drug Administration labeling for ICS-formoterol as a reliever therapy, a lack of awareness regarding a patient's formulary-preferred ICS–long-acting β-agonist choices, the high cost of combination inhalers, and time constraints. Facilitators to using new inhaler approaches included clinicians’ beliefs that the latest inhaler recommendations are simpler and more congruent with real-world patients’ behavior, and that a potential change in management strategy would offer a valuable opportunity for shared decision making. Conclusions: Although new guidelines exist in asthma, many clinicians described significant barriers to using them including medicolegal issues, pharmaceutical formulary confusion, and high drug costs. Nonetheless, most clinicians believed that the latest inhaler approaches would be more intuitive for their patients and would offer an opportunity for patient-centered collaboration and care. Stakeholders may find these results useful in future attempts to increase the real-world adoption of recent asthma recommendations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2767-2777
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2023


  • Asthma
  • Asthma guidelines
  • Dissemination and implementation science
  • Inhalers
  • Qualitative study


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