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Asthma – Diagnosis


The effective treatment of asthma depends on the correct diagnosis being made in the first place. In 2019 the British Thoracic Society (BTS) and the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) published their latest guidance on asthma, which included their recommendations on how to take a structured approach to diagnosis.1

General practice nurses (GPNs) who have the relevant training and competencies are often involved in diagnosing people who present with respiratory symptoms and a clear understanding of how the diagnosis is made is therefore essential. In people who already have a diagnosis of asthma, it is worth reviewing the diagnosis if they are poorly controlled despite asthma treatment – so in essence anyone involved in the care of people with asthma should be aware of how the diagnosis is reached.


On completion of this resource, you should have an understanding of:

  • The role of history taking in asthma diagnosis
  • The key features that suggest that asthma as the probable diagnosis
  • How to differentiate between high and intermediate probability cases
  • When to carry out objective diagnostic tests and why
  • The role of reversibility testing


1. BTS/SIGN. British guideline on the management of asthma; 2019

This resource, consisting of five assessment questions at intermediate level, tests your knowledge of the diagnosis of asthma in general practice. Complete the resource to obtain a certificate to include in your revalidation portfolio. You should record the time spent on this module in your CPD log.


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