Minority children from disadvantaged families use more urgent care and less preventive care for their asthma
Research Activities, June 2009, No. 346
Wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and difficulty breathing are the hallmarks of asthma, one of the most common chronic illnesses in children. Many children can control their asthma by using prescribed inhaled anti-inflammatory medications daily. However, a new study by Gail M. Kieckhefer, Ph.D., A.R.N.P, of the University of Washington, and colleagues finds that black and Hispanic children from low-income families and children whose mothers had less than a high-school education have prescriptions for asthma medicines filled less often than children from higher income families or whose mothers graduated high school. These children also tended to use emergency departments, and not medical office visits, to receive care for their asthma. The authors suggest that better educated mothers focus more on preventing asthma symptoms and rely less on urgent care facilities to treat asthma attacks after they occur.
If black and Hispanic parents rely on urgent care facilities because they lack the expertise to manage their children's asthma at home, educational interventions may give them the skills they need, the authors suggest. However, if parents rely on urgent care because they do not have regular caregivers, programs such as the State Children's Health Insurance Program may give children the access to preventive care they need for asthma care. This study, funded in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS13110), used 1996 to 2000 data for 982 children from the Agency's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey.
See "Health care utilization by children with asthma," by Hyoshin Kim, Ph.D., Dr. Kieckhefer, April A. Greek, Ph.D., and others in the January 2009 Preventing Chronic Disease 6(1), pp. 1-10. (E-pub available at http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2009/Jan/07_0199.htm.)