This seventh edition of the clinical treatment guidelines for asthma, the Australian Asthma Handbook, formerly the Asthma Management Handbook, is a purpose-built website rather than a printed document, but still provides downloadable and accessible print-friendly alternatives.
This format is designed to enable more frequent updates to the Handbook so that it remains at the forefront of asthma management, nationally and internationally. As such, minor updates were published as Version 1.1 in April 2015, Version 1.2 in October 2016, and Version 1.3 in December 2017. The Version 1.3 amendments cover updates in information and advice on thunderstorm-triggered asthma, allergic rhinitis in people with asthma, and diagnosing and managing asthma–COPD overlap.
The Handbook's content reflects the advances made in guideline development over the last decade. It still holds to the previous editions' commitment to providing practical advice for primary health care practitioners to support them in providing the best possible care for people with asthma.
The Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand first published the Asthma Management Plan in 1989 in the Medical Journal of Australia. General practitioners from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners then asked the newly formed National Asthma Council Australia (then National Asthma Campaign) to rewrite the guidelines for primary care and to disseminate them. In 1989, these were the first national guidelines for asthma in the world. Subsequent editions of the Asthma Management Handbook followed, each disseminated nationally, and in 1996, went online as well.
The Australian Asthma Handbook provides evidence-based practical guidance to primary care health professionals on the diagnosis and management of asthma in adults and children, and provides a benchmark for the standard of care for people with asthma.
The full edition was informed by ongoing consultation with primary care health professionals and developed with a vast multidisciplinary network of honorary contributors. Led by the multidisciplinary Guidelines Committee, these contributors consisted of seventeen topic Working Groups and numerous individual consultants, reviewers, expert readers and website user testers. Overall the Handbook development involved more than 100 experts from general practice, nursing, pharmacy, asthma education, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, respiratory medicine and science, allergy, sports medicine, emergency medicine, psychiatry and scientific research.
Many thanks go to my fellow Guidelines Committee members, the topic Working Groups and other honorary contributors, the dedicated National Asthma Council Australia staff, methodologists and medical writer, and to all our supporters who have worked unstintingly to give Australia such excellent asthma guidelines.
Professor Amanda Barnard
March 2014, updated December 2017