Real-Life Outcomes for Patients with Asthma Prescribed Spacers for Use with Either Extrafine- or Fine-Particle Inhaled Corticosteroids Journal Articles uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Spacers are often used with pressurized metered-dose inhalers (pMDIs) to eliminate the need for coordinating inhalation with actuation. OBJECTIVE: To investigate the real-life effectiveness of spacers prescribed for use with either extrafine- or fine-particle inhaled corticosteroids (ICSs). METHODS: This historical matched cohort study examined anonymous medical record data over 2 years (1-year baseline, 1-year outcome) for patients with asthma aged 12 to 80 years initiating ICSs by pMDI with or without prescribed spacer. We compared outcomes for spacer versus no-spacer arms, matched for key baseline and asthma-related characteristics, within 2 ICS cohorts: (1) extrafine-particle ICS (beclomethasone) and (2) fine-particle ICS (fluticasone). Effectiveness end points were compared using conditional regression methods. RESULTS: Matched spacer and no-spacer arms of the extrafine-particle ICS cohort each included 2090 patients (69% females; median age, 46-47 years) and the 2 arms of the fine-particle ICS cohort each included 444 patients (67% females; median age, 45 years). With extrafine-particle ICS, we observed no significant difference between spacer and no-spacer arms in severe exacerbation rate (primary end point): adjusted rate ratio, 1.01 (95% CI, 0.83-1.23). With fine-particle ICS, the severe exacerbation rate ratio with spacers was 0.77 (0.47-1.25). Oropharyngeal candidiasis incidence was low and similar in spacer and no-spacer arms for both ICS cohorts. CONCLUSIONS: We found no evidence that prescribed spacer devices are associated with improved asthma outcomes for extrafine- or fine-particle ICS administered by pMDI. These findings challenge long-standing assumptions that spacers should improve pMDI effectiveness and indicate the need for pragmatic trials of spacers in clinical practice.


  • Guilbert, Theresa W
  • Colice, Gene
  • Grigg, Jonathan
  • van Aalderen, Wim
  • Martin, Richard J
  • Israel, Elliot
  • Postma, Dirkje S
  • Roche, Nicolas
  • Phipatanakul, Wanda
  • Hillyer, Elizabeth V
  • Evans, Jennifer M
  • Dolovich, Myrna
  • Price, David B

publication date

  • July 2017