In patients with severe uncontrolled asthma, does knowledge of adherence and inhaler technique using electronic monitoring improve clinical decision making? A protocol for a randomised controlled trial.

INTRODUCTION: Many patients with asthma remain poorly controlled despite the use of inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting beta agonists. Poor control may arise from inadequate adherence, incorrect inhaler technique or because the condition is refractory. Without having an objective assessment of adherence, clinicians may inadvertently add extra medication instead of addressing adherence. This study aims to assess if incorporating objectively recorded adherence from the Inhaler Compliance Assessment (INCA) device and lung function into clinical decision making provides more cost-effective prescribing and improves outcomes.

METHODS AND ANALYSIS: This prospective, randomised, multicentre study will compare the impact of using information on adherence to influence asthma treatment. Patients with severe uncontrolled asthma will be included. Data on adherence, inhaler technique and electronically recorded peak expiratory flow rate will be used to promote adherence and guide a clinical decision protocol to guide management in the active group. The control group will receive standard inhaler and adherence education. Medications will be adjusted using a protocol based on Global Initiativefor Asthma (GINA) recommendations. The primary outcome is the between-group difference in the proportion of patients who have refractory disease and are prescribed appropriate medications at the end of 32 weeks. A co-primary outcome is the difference between groups in the rate of adherence to salmeterol/fluticasone inhaler over the last 12 weeks. Secondary outcomes include changes in symptoms, lung function, type-2 cytokine biomarkers and clinical outcomes between both groups. Cost-effectiveness and cost-utility analyses of the INCA device intervention will be performed. The economic impact of a national implementation of the INCA-SUN programme will be evaluated.

ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: The results of the study will be published as a manuscript in peer-reviewed journals. The study has been approved by the ethics committees in the five participating hospitals.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: NCT02307669; Pre-results.