Results of a programme to improve house staff use of metered dose inhalers and spacers

Mary Lee-Wong, P. H. Mayo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Purpose: Metered dose inhalers (MDIs) and spacers are used widely in the treatment of asthma. Medical personnel who are responsible for training patients must themselves be proficient with the devices. The proficiency of a group of new medical interns with use of MDI and spacer devices was determined, and improvement in their use of these devices was sought. Subjects: Fifty six medical interns tested at the start of their first house staff training year. Methods: The ability of medical interns to use MDIs and spacers was assessed using a visual scoring system before and after a large group lecture emphasising proper device use and once again after an intensive one-on-one training session with an attending physician. Results: Initially, only 5% used an MDI perfectly. This improved to 13% after a lecture and demonstration, and 73% after an intensive one-on-one session. Almost no new interns could use a collapsible or tube spacer properly initially. This improved to 15% and 29% respectively after a lecture. After one-on-one training, correct technique was increased to 69% for collapsible spacer and 95% for the tube spacer. Analysis of individual steps of MDI use showed that interns had particular difficulty in coordinating actuation with inhalation. The tube spacer appeared easiest to learn. Conclusions: Incoming medical house staff have limited ability to use MDI with and without spacers. A large group lecture is relatively ineffective when compared with a one-on-one training session in training with these devices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-225
Number of pages5
JournalPostgraduate Medical Journal
Issue number930
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2003
Externally publishedYes


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