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Ann Emerg Med. 2001 Aug;38(2):115-22.

A randomized, controlled trial of a simple emergency department intervention to improve the rate of primary care follow-up for patients with acute asthma exacerbations.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, Pulmonary Division, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, 3400 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102, USA.



We determined whether a simple emergency department intervention improves the likelihood of primary care provider (PCP) follow-up after ED discharge for an acute asthma exacerbation.


This randomized, controlled clinical trial was conducted in an urban university-based ED. Participants were patients with asthma between the ages of 16 and 45 years who were treated and discharged from the ED. The study intervention was usual care or an intervention that consisted of a free 5-day course of prednisone, vouchers for transportation to and from their PCP, and a 48-hour telephone reminder to make an appointment with their PCP. The main outcome was whether the patient received follow-up care as determined by PCP contact at 4 weeks.


One hundred ninety-two patients with asthma were enrolled over 8 months; 178 (93%) had complete follow-up. The intervention and control groups were similar with regard to age, sex, ethnicity, or years of education. The 2 groups were also comparable with respect to multiple measures of baseline access/barriers to care and severity of ED exacerbation. Patients receiving the intervention were significantly more likely to follow up with their PCP than control patients (relative risk 1.6; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.1, 2.4). When adjusted for other factors influencing PCP follow-up care (ethnicity, prior PCP relationship, insurance status, regular car access), intervention patients were more likely to follow up with their PCP (odds ratio 3.1; 95% CI 1.5, 6.3).


Providing medication, transportation vouchers, and a telephone reminder to make an appointment increased the likelihood that discharged patients with asthma obtained PCP follow-up.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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