Self management programs for chronic conditions, such as asthma, have an important place in healthcare delivery. When properly implemented, they can curb the impact of disease and reduce both the high personal costs for individuals and significant financial costs for health care systems. The purpose of this review was to establish an understanding of current published literature on asthma self management programs in adults and to identify any reported attributes or components which serve to either assist or obstruct the uptake of self management strategies. Electronic data sources including Scopus, Proquest 5000, CINAHL, PubMed and Web of Science were accessed and literature searches were conducted using the key terms: asthma, chronic disease, self management, morbidity, quality of life, health outcomes, patient education and best practice. Inclusion criteria for the search included journal articles relating to adults with asthma published in English in peer reviewed journals from 1995 to 2011. Exclusion criteria included research targeting children, parents of children or families; and articles examining Asthma and COPD (or any other co-morbidity). Sixty four articles were included in this review due to their relevance to the major components of asthma self management, as defined by the Australian Asthma Management Handbook. A major conclusion from this review was that the uptake of asthma self management strategies is poor despite global recommendations for over twenty years; and that a likely reason for this is that generic asthma self management advice does not engage the individual with asthma.