“When people know the ‘why’ they’re more likely to comply”

The Asthma STAR system is primarily for use with children who have been prescribed a metered dose inhaler (MDI/puffer). There are some key points that we need families to take home with them after their consult with us. Often we give a lot of information and education in one sitting which has the potential to be a little overwhelming.  So, to help with this, we have developed the Asthma STAR system.

The letters of STAR stand for different key messages. To check that we have properly communicated these messages to families we see, we ask them about each of these areas at the end of a consult and then the children are given an Asthma STAR sticker. Ensuring we correctly communicate the ‘why’ of every message is important in order to achieve compliance and therefore better asthma management.


Spacers are not just for kids! Using an MDI (puffer) with a spacer delivers up to 50% more medicine to your lungs than using a puffer alone. 

Why? Because spacers slow down the speed of the medicine coming out of the inhaler, suspending it briefly in the chamber, making it easier to breathe in. Using a puffer without a spacer means the majority of the medicine ends up hitting the back of the throat, resulting in an increased risk of thrush and other oral problems. It also means a reduced amount of medicine is getting to the lungs where it is needed. 

Technique & Triggers


A recent study in Australia showed that nearly 90% of Australian asthmatics were using their inhalers incorrectly (Ref: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5278803). We aren’t much better here in NZ! It’s so important to use the right technique.

Why? Technique is vital to ensure you are getting the correct amount of medicine, that the medicine is mixed correctly with propellant and the medicine is getting down into the lungs properly to be effective.


These are the things that flare your asthma - these can range from just about anything - the family dog to cockroaches to even chlorinated swimming pools. There are some very common ones though and you need to be aware of them.

Why?  So that you know how to minimise their effect on you or your child in order to manage the asthma. 

Action Plan

All asthmatics should have an up to date Asthma Action Plan that details their current medications and what to do in an emergency, signed by their GP. 

Why? In order to know what to do during the stages of well, worse and worried – and what to do in an emergency. Once completed, this Action Plan should be colour copied and made available to every person involved in the child’s care, eg. school, kindy, relatives. Asthma Waikato can provide an Action Plan for your child which can be taken to the doctor to fill in.


Asthma is a reversible condition and it is also highly changeable. All asthmatics should be regularly reviewing their own symptoms and also book in a scheduled review with their doctor every 6 months.

Why? This is to check symptoms and control and also to ascertain the best treatment regime to gain that control. As you can see on the next page there are many different devices available to deliver the medicine and there are also different treatment regimes that can be employed to gain the best control. The goal is to be on the least amount of medicine necessary to achieve the best control – not too much, not too little!


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