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Pediatrics. 2005 Oct;116(4):957-65.

Keeping children with asthma out of hospitals: parents' and physicians' perspectives on how pediatric asthma hospitalizations can be prevented.

Author information

  • 1Center for the Advancement of Underserved Children, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI, USA. gflores@mail.mcw.edu



A total of 196,000 hospitalizations occur each year among the 9 million US children who have been diagnosed with asthma. Not enough is known about how to prevent pediatric asthma hospitalizations.


To identify the proportion of preventable pediatric asthma hospitalizations and how such hospitalizations might be prevented, according to parents and physicians of hospitalized children with asthma.


A cross-sectional survey was conducted of parents, primary care physicians (PCPs), and inpatient attending physicians (IAPs) of a consecutive series of all children who were admitted for asthma to an urban hospital in a 14-month period.


The 230 hospitalized children had a median age of 5 years; most were poor (median annual family income: 13,356 dollars), were nonwhite (93%), and had public (74%) or no (14%) health insurance. Compared with children who were hospitalized for other ambulatory care-sensitive conditions, hospitalized children with asthma were significantly more likely to be African American (70% vs 57%), to be older, and not to have made a physician visit or telephone contact before admission (52% vs 41%). Only 26% of parents said that their child's admission was preventable, compared with 38% of PCPs and 43% of IAPs. The proportion of asthma hospitalizations that were assessed as preventable varied according to the source or combination of sources, from 15% for agreement among all 3 sources to 54% as identified by any 1 of the 3 sources. PCPs (83%) and IAPs (67%) significantly more often than parents (44%) cited parent/patient-related reasons for how hospitalizations could have been prevented, including adhering to and refilling medications, better outpatient follow-up, and avoiding known disease triggers. Parents (27%) and IAPs (26%) significantly more often than PCPs (11%) cited physician-related reasons for how hospitalizations could have been avoided, including better education by physicians about the child's condition, and better quality of care. Multivariate analyses revealed that an age > or =11 years and no physician contact before the hospitalization were associated with approximately 2 times the odds of a preventable asthma hospitalization.


The proportion of asthma hospitalizations assessed as preventable varies from 15% to 54%, depending on the source. Adolescents and families who fail to contact physicians before hospitalization are at greatest risk for preventable hospitalizations. Many pediatric asthma hospitalizations might be prevented if parents and children were better educated about the child's condition, medications, the need for follow-up care, and the importance of avoiding known disease triggers.

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