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Pediatrics. 2006 Apr;117(4 Pt 2):S118-26.

Asthma care and management before an emergency department visit in children in western Michigan: how well does care adhere to guidelines?

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Department of Epidemiology, B 601 West Fee Hall, College of Human Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824, USA.



Asthma is one of the more common reasons for children's visits to the emergency departments (EDs). Many studies show that the level of asthma care and self-management in children before an ED visit for asthma is often inadequate; however, most of these studies have been conducted in the inner cities of large urban areas. Our objectives were to describe asthma care and management in children treated for asthma in 3 EDs located in an urban, suburban, or rural setting.


We studied a prospective patient cohort consisting of children aged 2 to 17 years who presented with an acute asthma exacerbation at 3 EDs in western Michigan. An in-person questionnaire was administered to the parent or guardian during the ED visit. Information was collected on demographics; asthma history; usual asthma care; frequency of symptoms during the last 4 weeks; current asthma treatment, management, and control; and past emergency asthma care. A telephone interview conducted 2 weeks after the ED visit obtained follow-up information. The 8 quality indicators of asthma care and management were defined based on recommendations from national guidelines.


Of 197 children, 70% were enrolled at the urban site, 18% at the suburban site, and 12% at the rural site. The average age was 7.9 years; 60% were male, and 33% were black. At presentation, nearly half (46%) of the children had mild intermittent asthma, 20% had mild persistent asthma, 15% had moderate persistent asthma, and 19% had severe persistent asthma. One quarter of the children had been hospitalized for asthma, and two thirds had at least 1 previous ED visit in the past year. At least 94% had health insurance coverage and 95% reported having a primary care provider. Less than half of the children had attended at least 2 scheduled asthma appointments with their regular asthma care provider in the past year. Although only 5% of the subjects reported that the ED was their only source of asthma care, at least 30% reported that they always went directly to the ED when they needed urgent asthma care. Only 3 in 5 children possessed either a spacer or a peak-flow meter, whereas approximately 2 in 5 reported having a written asthma action plan. Among those with persistent asthma, there was considerable evidence of undertreatment, with 36% not on either an inhaled corticosteroid or a suitable long-term control medication. Only 20% completed a visit with their regular asthma care provider within 1 week of their ED visit.


Despite very high levels of health care coverage and access to primary care, the overall quality of asthma care and management fell well short of that recommended by national guidelines.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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