Disparities widen in the use of asthma medications

Research Activities, July 2010, No. 359

The gap between the proportion of black and white Americans with asthma who took an inhaled or oral medicine daily to prevent attacks grew wider between 2003 and 2006, according to the latest data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The Agency found that there was no significant difference in the use of daily asthma medicine between the two groups in 2003 (29 percent of black Americans compared with 30 percent of white Americans). By 2006, the proportion of blacks who reported taking daily asthma medicine had fallen to 25 percent, while 34 percent of whites reported taking it.

According to other findings in the analysis:

  • The gap between Hispanic and white asthma sufferers who reported daily use of medicine also widened from 2003 to 2006. Roughly 28 percent of Hispanics and 31 percent of whites reported taking medicine daily for asthma in 2003. In 2006, the number of Hispanics taking the drugs declined to 23 percent, while the number of whites taking them increased to 35 percent.
  • From 2003 to 2006, the gap in use of asthma medications closed between higher- and lower-income people who took asthma medications.
  • During the same period, the gap closed between people who didn't finish high school and those with higher levels of education.

Asthma attacks can interrupt normal daily activities by causing wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, difficulty talking, and other problems. Daily long-term medication to control the disease is necessary to prevent attacks for all people with persistent asthma.

These findings are based on data from pages 74 and 75 in the 2009 National Healthcare Disparities Report (), which examines the disparities in Americans' access to and quality of health care, with breakdowns by race, ethnicity, income, and education.

Current as of July 2010
Internet Citation: Disparities widen in the use of asthma medications: Research Activities, July 2010, No. 359. July 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://archive.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/jul10/0710RA26.html