A systematic review of methods of scoring inhaler technique

Ruth De Vos*, Alexander Hicks, Mitch Lomax, Heather Mackenzie, Lauren Fox, Thomas P. Brown, A. J. Chauhan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Many inhaler devices are currently used in clinical practice to deliver medication, with each inhaler device offering different benefits to overcome technique issues. Inhaler technique remains poor, contributing to reduced airway drug deposition and consequently poor disease control. Scoring inhaler technique has been used within research as an outcome measure of inhaler technique assessment, and this systematic review collates and evaluates these scoring methods. The review protocol was prospectively registered in PROSPERO (CRD42020218869). A total of 172 articles were screened with 77 included, and the results presented using narrative synthesis due to the heterogeneity of the study design and data. The most frequently used scoring method awarded one point per step in the inhaler technique checklist and was included in 59/77 (77%) of articles; however limited and varied guidance was provided for score interpretation. Other inhaler technique scoring methods included grading the final inhaler technique score, expressing the total score as a percentage/ratio, deducting points from the final score when errors were made, and weighting steps within the checklist depending on how crucial the step was. Vast heterogeneity in the number of steps and content in the inhaler technique checklists was observed across all device types (range 5–19 steps). Only 4/77 (5%) of the inhaler technique measures had undertaken fundamental steps required in the scale development process for use in real world practice. This review demonstrates the demand for a tool that measures inhaler technique and highlights the current unmet need for one that has undergone validation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107430
Number of pages9
JournalRespiratory Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 3 Nov 2023


  • Asthma
  • COPD
  • Inhaler technique
  • Inhaler technique checklist
  • Inhaler technique score

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