Multi-Pronged Model for Managing Asthma in Preschoolers Leads to a Dramatic Drop in Emergency Room Visits and Hospitalizations
Nearly one in eleven (8.6%) preschool children in the U.S. has been diagnosed with asthma and in some inner city neighborhoods, the figure is closer to one in seven. But, few asthma management programs are designed for parents of preschool children.
The Asthma Basics for Children (ABC) program, established by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and a coalition of community service organizations, educators, parenting programs, and community pediatric providers, addressed this need with a multi-layered approach that offers educational activities to parents and children in 31 Northern Manhattan daycare centers as well as training to community pediatric providers.
Following participation in the program, 85% percent of parents reported reducing their child’s asthma triggers. The percent of children with asthma-related visits to emergency departments declined sharply from 74% to 47%, as did asthma-related hospitalizations, dropping from 24% to 11%.
Full study findings are published in the February 2011 Journal of Urban Health.
The ABC Program provided multiple opportunities for parents to learn about asthma signs and triggers in health units at the daycare centers. The multi-level intervention involved social workers, peer counselors and trained health educators, as in other community-based asthma coalitions ; but also promoted parent participation by offering flexible workshop scheduling; reinforcing messages to parents through daycare center activities for their children; and adding a provider-education component to improve communication between parents and providers. The Columbia researchers found that parent participation rates in the study exceeded rates found in most other preschool or school-based asthma programs.
“Although emergency room visits and hospitalization rates for this age group are more than twice that of older children with asthma, until we developed the ABC model, only a handful of programs had been designed to promote better asthma management by their parents,” said