Oct 8 2012 - ASCIA allergic rhinitis and immunotherapy e-training courses for health professionals are now available
Allergic rhinitis (commonly known as hay fever) is the most common allergic disorder in Australia and New Zealand, in both children and adults. To address the need for evidence based education in this area, for medical practitioners working in primary care, ASCIA has developed two new free online courses:
- ASCIA allergic rhinitis e-training for health professionals
- ASCIA immunotherapy e-training for health professionals
These courses have been released this week and are now available on the ASCIA website: www.allergy.org.au/health-professionals/health-professionals-e-training
These courses aim to provide accurate, consistent and evidence based education for primary care practitioners on how to effectively manage allergic rhinitis, when to refer patients to specialists and how to safely administer ongoing (maintenance) allergen immunotherapy (sometimes referred to as desensitisation), one of the treatment options for some patients with moderate or severe allergic rhinitis.
Based on self-reports, allergic rhinitis affects approximately 15% of Australians1. Studies have shown that moderate to severe persistent allergic rhinitis significantly impacts quality of life2. Allergic rhinitis can affect day to day functioning including affecting the learning ability of children at school and productivity of adults at work.
Primary care practitioners play an important role in the management of allergic rhinitis. Many patients with mild to moderate allergic rhinitis can be appropriately managed by their general practitioner or paediatrician. Patients with moderate or severe allergic rhinitis may need to be referred to a clinical immunology/allergy specialist, particularly for initiation of allergen immunotherapy.
ASCIA spokesperson Dr Sam Mehr said that the waiting list to see a specialist in immunology and allergy is too long and primary care practitioners can assist by assessing patients for appropriate referral.
"Many patients with allergic rhinitis can be appropriately managed by primary care practitioners. More severe cases and patients who may benefit from immunotherapy should be referred to a clinical immunology and allergy specialist."
Dr Mehr said that it is important to educate primary care practitioners about immunotherapy, as they often provide immunotherapy injections after the treatment has been initiated by a clinical immunology/allergy specialist.
"There is a risk of anaphylaxis with immunotherapy injections and it important for primary care practitioners to know how to administer immunotherapy injections safely and be prepared for adverse reactions", he said.
The ASCIA allergic rhinitis and immunotherapy e-training courses are closely related as clinical immunology/allergy specialists may recommend immunotherapy for some patients with allergic rhinitis.
Primary care practitioners have the capacity to provide ongoing management of allergic rhinitis and are also often responsible for providing ongoing immunotherapy injections after the treatment has been initiated by clinical immunology/allergy specialists.
These courses have been developed in parallel with the following supporting resources that are also available free from the ASCIA website:
ASCIA Treatment Plan for Allergic Rhinitis (for completion by Specialist or GP)
ASCIA Patient Information – Is it Allergic Rhinitis?
ASCIA Treatment Plan for Subcutaneous Immunotherapy (for Specialist to provide to GP)
These courses and resources have undergone extensive review by ASCIA members and representatives from other medical organisations to ensure the highest quality evidence based resources have been developed.
Organisations involved in the development of the courses include the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners (RNZCGP), the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP), the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM), the Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA), the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) and the Australian Society of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery (ASOHNS).
ASCIA has received financial support via industry educational grants to develop the e-training courses. ASCIA will retain copyright and control over the content of the courses and update them as evidence based changes occur in the medical literature.
To maximise utilisation of the resources, ASCIA allergic rhinitis and immunotherapy e-training courses are available free of charge from the ASCIA website.
1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2011. Allergic rhinitis ('hay fever') in Australia. Cat. No. ACM 23. Canberra: AIHW.
2. Nathan RA. The burden of allergic disease. Allergy Asthma Proc. 2007;28 (1):3-9.