Boost Your Asthma IQ

Vol. 15 •Issue 7 • Page 8
First Thoughts

Boost Your Asthma IQ

The fading days of summer still remind me of going back to school. I’d trade in my flip-flops for saddle shoes, bestsellers for textbooks, and beachcombing for multiple-choice tests.

So when long-time ADVANCE board member, author, and asthma expert Thomas Plaut, MD, asked me to pilot his asthma quiz, I thought, “Perfect timing.”

More than a dozen quizzes are available on the Internet that test your asthma IQ. I found ones that focused on asthma inhaler technique, asthma in schools, and even dust mites.

While all of them are quick and fun to try out, Dr. Plaut’s quiz takes a slightly different approach. It motivates the test takers to learn more about asthma.

He based his questions on highlights from lectures about optimizing asthma care that he’s given throughout the years. The quiz takes about 30 minutes to complete, and it’s worth the time.

The instructions are for quiz takers to print the test and answer as many questions as they can. When finished, they can fill in answers they missed by comparing an answer sheet or look them up in Dr. Plaut’s patient guide, “One Minute Asthma: What You Need to Know.”

This “look up” exercise is the educational experience that Dr. Plaut hopes the quiz will foster. It doesn’t matter what knowledge base the test takers have, he said, anyone can benefit. Even a top asthma expert who finished the test in five minutes and scored 95 percent learned something new.

There’s always room to stretch your brain. And in the case of asthma management, this is especially true.

Despite advances in asthma treatment options, poor doctor-patient communication is a roadblock to optimal care. The Global Asthma Physician and Patient survey revealed that 73 percent of 3,500 adult asthma patients admit that they rarely discuss medication side effects with their physicians. One in five said they were unaware of short-term side effects. On the other hand, 95 percent of physicians who prescribe asthma meds thought their patients knew about possible side effects.

A tool like Dr. Plaut’s asthma quiz can open up a better dialogue. It helps gauge patients’ level of understanding and pinpoints gaps that need to be addressed. For example, the quiz asks test takers to name the good effect of albuterol and two side effects. This could be a springboard for a broader discussion.

While I answered those questions correctly, a couple others stumped me. I learned that the signs of excellent asthma control aren’t restricted to physical ones; fewer missed school and work days matter too.

So what was my final score, you ask? The percentage points don’t matter, according to Dr. Plaut. The real success is in reinforcing what I already knew about asthma, and learning a few new things along the way.

To give the asthma quiz your best shot, visit

Sharlene George, Editor, [email protected]