Asthma Medication Adherence: A Quirky Common Sense Message Delivers Results

ghg Australia working with GREY Australia were recently presented with the challenge of mobilizing asthma patients to review their asthma management with their physician. Given that almost 50% of people with asthma do not have good asthma control – despite ongoing efforts by leading physicians and asthma organisations to educate patients – it was clear that a traditional approach would yield little additional impact. As many as nine out of ten asthma patients do not use their device properly, and adherence continues to be an issue, with less than five prescriptions being dispensed every 12 months for monthly inhalers.

The ghg/GREY approach was to engage the audience with humorous analogies linked to everyday life that dramatized the excuses people make to justify their behaviour. The campaign underpinned with the common sense tagline: “If you’re not doing it properly, it’s not working properly” and directed people back to their doctor for a treatment review.  An integrated campaign included television commercials, radio commercials, local press, plus in-clinic posters and patient questionnaire. A patient website supported the messages, provided further information and directed people to book an appointment via HealthEngine.com.au

The effectiveness of the campaign shows what can be achieved by taking a fresh, non-traditional approach to patient communications: GSK were hoping that 10% of people with asthma would visit their doctor to discuss their asthma management, in fact as a result 42.2% of those exposed to the TV ad actually discussed asthma with their doctor in the 2 months campaign period. They also showed greater understanding of the importance of device technique and adherence to achieving good asthma control. This is a particularly impressive result, since this audience has previously been exposed to countless educational initiatives here in Australia on better asthma management.