Objective. To compare the effects of 2 nebulizable controller asthma medications on caregiver and pediatric quality of life.
Methods. In this 52-week, randomized trial, children aged 2 to 6 years with mild to moderate persistent asthma received budesonide inhalation suspension 0.5 mg (total daily dose) once or twice daily (n = 168) or cromolyn sodium nebulizer solution 20 mg 4 times daily (n = 167) for 8 weeks, with dosage adjustment thereafter at the investigators’ discretion. The Pediatric Asthma Caregiver’s Quality of Life Questionnaire (PACQLQ), Compliance/Caregiver Satisfaction Questionnaire (CCSQ), Modified Child Health Questionnaire-Parent Form 50 (CHQ-PF50), and Functional Status-II(R) (FS-II[R]) Questionnaire were administered at baseline and weeks 8, 28, and 52. Global assessments of ease of asthma management and child health status were obtained from caregivers and physicians at the end of the study.
Results. Improvements from baseline in domain-specific (activities and emotional function) and total PACQLQ scores were greater at each time point (weeks 8, 28, and 52) for caregivers of patients treated with budesonide compared with caregivers of patients receiving cromolyn sodium. Only the budesonide group met the criterion for a clinically important improvement (≥0.5 unit change) in all PACQLQ domains by week 8, which was maintained at weeks 28 and 52. Moreover, improvements surpassed the criterion for moderate clinical importance (1.0 unit change) in all PACQLQ domains for the budesonide group, but this level of improvement was only achieved in the activities domain (at week 28) for the cromolyn sodium group. Based on the CCSQ, budesonide resulted in greater caregiver satisfaction, treatment convenience, ease of use, and compliance compared with cromolyn sodium. Thus, 90.7% of caregivers in the budesonide group were “completely or very satisfied” compared with 53.4% in the cromolyn sodium group. Over half (54.6%) of caregivers in the budesonide group rated budesonide “highly or very convenient” compared with 23% for cromolyn sodium; 77% rated budesonide “extremely or very easy” to use compared with 47% for cromolyn. Adherence with daily medication regimens was reported for 76% of children in the budesonide group compared with 57% in the cromolyn sodium group. Child health status, as indicated by mean FS-II(R) scores, showed improvements from baseline in both groups at weeks 8, 28, and 52. There was a trend for these improvements to be superior in the budesonide group. Additionally, budesonide was superior to cromolyn sodium in caregiver and physician global assessments. At the end of the study, 76% of caregivers of children receiving budesonide reported asthma management to be “a great deal easier” compared with the start of the study, and 74% rated the overall health status of their child as “much better now than 1 year ago.” In contrast, only 29% and 37% of caregivers whose children received cromolyn sodium provided these respective ratings.
Conclusions. Budesonide inhalation suspension improved the quality of life for caregivers of children with asthma. Caregivers of children treated with budesonide had significantly fewer limitations in daily activities and emotional functioning compared with caregivers of children treated with cromolyn sodium nebulizer solution. The improvements in caregiver quality of life occurred earlier with budesonide compared with cromolyn sodium. Only caregivers in the budesonide group had a clinically important mean change from baseline in all PACQLQ domains by week 8. These benefits were maintained at week 52. Children treated with budesonide inhalation suspension and cromolyn sodium experienced improvements in health status, assessed using the FS-II(R). The greatest differences between treatments were seen in the disease-specific portion of the FS-II(R), which relates impairments in functional status to the child’s illness. Caregiver and physician global assessment indicated significantly better overall child health after 1 year of treatment with budesonide, supporting an improvement in health status. Clinical trials in children 4 to 16 years of age with asthma have demonstrated greater effectiveness of inhaled corticosteroids versus cromolyn sodium on several clinical measures of efficacy. Measures of asthma control in this study, reported in detail elsewhere [Leflein et al. Pediatrics. 2002;109:866–872], also have shown greater improvements with budesonide therapy. Treatment with budesonide inhalation suspension resulted in a significantly lower mean rate of asthma exacerbations, significantly longer times to first asthma exacerbation, significantly longer times to first additional use of chronic asthma therapy, and significant improvements in asthma symptom scores and breakthrough medication use compared with cromolyn sodium therapy. Additionally, children receiving budesonide inhalation suspension experienced more symptom-free days and episode-free days compared with children receiving cromolyn sodium. Safety profiles were similar between the 2 treatment groups. Budesonide inhalation suspension was associated with significantly greater caregiver satisfaction, convenience, ease of use, and compliance compared with cromolyn sodium nebulizer solution. This greater caregiver satisfaction and quality of life may be related to the greater asthma control achieved in children treated with budesonide therapy compared with cromolyn sodium. In addition, the convenience of once- or twice-daily dosing with budesonide inhalation suspension, compared with 3- or 4-times-daily dosing of cromolyn sodium, may decrease caregiver burden and enhance the willingness of caregivers to adhere to treatment regimens prescribed for their young children with asthma. This effect on caregiver adherence could further improve treatment effectiveness. This is the first clinical trial comparing the effects of a nebulized corticosteroid with that of an alternative nebulized therapy on quality of life in young children with asthma and their families. Compared with nebulized cromolyn sodium, budesonide inhalation suspension not only provides better overall child health status and asthma management, but greater caregiver quality of life and greater caregiver satisfaction, convenience, ease of use, and compliance.