Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

Asthma Action Plan

  • An asthma action plan is an individualized written, electronic, and/or pictorial plan developed for the purpose of self-management of asthma.
  • The plan guides self-monitoring of asthma based on symptoms, reliever use, and perhaps peak flow measurements, and details the management steps to take according to each individual’s asthma control.
  • The action plan is tailored to the person’s preferences, treatment, and usual pattern of exacerbations, and may incorporate triggers. Action plans should be developed in partnership with the person with asthma.


  • Asthma action plans often use a traffic light analogy utilizing a green, a yellow, and a red zone:
  • The green zone represents acceptable and stable asthma control, and a “go ahead” with current therapy.
  • The yellow zone represents a time of “caution,” in that there are signs of worsening asthma and loss of asthma control. In response to this loss of control, suggestions may be made to adjust medications and/or seek medical assistance.
  • The red zone represents a time of “danger” where asthma is identified as being out of control and severe enough to warrant urgent medical attention.


  • Action plans with escalation of medication therapy must be authorized by a prescriber. The level of detail in the plan is dependent on the person’s understanding and preferences. Key components for teaching a person how to use an action plan include the signs and symptoms of worsening asthma control, how to adjust medications, and when to seek medical attention (either an office visit or urgent care).
  • If the person has an action plan, careful questioning by the health-care professional about the person’s most recent loss of control will help the health-care professional gauge the person’s understanding of the plan, assess the skills required for proper execution of the plan, and identify the need for any further education.


Chronic Disease
Adult Asthma Care Guidelines for Nurses: Promoting Control of Asthma
Point of Care Resources