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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2000 Jan;105(1 Pt 1):83-90.

Emergency department visits by urban African American children with asthma.

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  • 1Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care, Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA.



Asthma morbidity among African American children has been identified as a significant national health concern. High emergency department use is one index of this morbidity and may reflect disease severity, disease management, and social factors.


This study examined the prevalence and correlates of emergency department use and other indices of asthma morbidity among a sample of urban, low-income, African American children.


Parents of 392 elementary school children with asthma who had consented to participate in an asthma education program were interviewed by phone according to a standardized protocol.


Children had a mean of 6.2 days of restricted activity (SD 8.1) and 7.9 symptomatic nights (SD 8.1). The mean number of school days missed because of asthma was 9.7 (SD 13.5). Among children with asthma symptoms in the past 12 months, 73.2% could identify a specific physician or nurse who provided asthma care. For those families without an identified asthma primary care provider, 39.3% received their usual asthma care from the emergency department. A total of 43.6% of the children had been to the emergency department for asthma care without hospitalization in the previous 6 months. Close to 80% of children reported using one or more prescribed asthma medication, and of these only 12% reported using inhaled anti-inflammatory medications. Families of children who had used the emergency department in the prior 6 months reported more asthma symptoms, lower social support, problems paying for health care, and the absence of a hypoallergenic mattress cover and that they had seen a physician for regular asthma care in the past 6 months.


We conclude that asthma management for children in the inner city relies on episodic care and emergency care, that asthma medication management does not conform to current guidelines, and that asthma symptoms resulting in school absences and workdays lost are prevalent.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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