Background: Prescription patterns of anti-asthma medications in children vary among doctors in different disciplines and settings, and may reflect differences in treatment outcome. The purpose of this study was to analyze the prescribing patterns of anti-asthma drugs by pediatricians, family physicians and other practitioners. Methods: Data for a total of 225,537 anti-asthma prescriptions were collected from the National Health Insurance Research Database for the period from January 1, 2002 to March 31, 2002. These medications included inhaled and oral adrenergics, inhaled and oral corticosteroids, xanthine derivatives, and leukotriene receptor antagonists prescribed by general pediatricians, family physicians and physicians in other disciplines. Results: Oral β2-agonist was the most commonly prescribed drug used as monotherapy, with prescription rates of 70.4%, 46.9% and 58.0% by pediatricians, family physicians and other physicians, respectively. A xanthine derivative was the next most commonly prescribed monotherapy. Oral corticosteroid combined with oral β2-agonist, followed by oral β2-agonist combined with a xanthine derivative were the two most commonly prescribed dual-agent combined therapies by all three physician categories. The prescription rate for inhaled corticosteroid monotherapy was 7.8% by pediatricians, 5.6% by family physicians, and 8.0% by other physicians. The prescription rate for inhaled adrenergic was the highest in family physicians (14.9%), followed by the other physicians (7.2%), and was lowest in pediatricians (3.1%). Conclusion: Pediatricians and f amily physicians appeared to share similar opinions on the medical management of children with asthma in that both most commonly prescribed oral β2-agonists and xanthine derivatives, either alone or in combination. Family physicians were least likely to prescribe an inhaled corticosteroid and most likely to prescribe an inhaled adrenergic agent.
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