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J Asthma. 2010 May;47(4):465-72. doi: 10.3109/02770901003734298.

Assessing the potential influence of asthma on student attendance/absence in public elementary schools.

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Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey School of Public Health, Piscataway, New Jersey 08854, USA.



Student health, well-being, and productivity are determined in part by attending school daily. Increased annual average daily attendance (ADA) increases public funding for school district-based enrichment programs. Asthma is reported as the number 1 cause of American school absenteeism due to chronic illness; however, only limited, estimated national data exist. Accurate, precise ways to assess potential disparities in disease-driven absence do not yet exist. The authors summarize part of their community-based participatory research (CBPR), namely planning then testing a set of matching field sheet (data collection) and computer-based spreadsheets (database) based on previous school-based research to track attendance and reasons for absence.


The CBPR process occurred mid-2005 to mid-2008, with final activities in DeKalb County, Georgia, August-December 2007 (fall semester) for this portion. The authors tracked absence, with an ability to examine data overall and at classroom, grade, and school levels by gender, race/ethnicity, and doctor-diagnosed asthma as reported to schools on student emergency cards.


The authors characterized their study sample, consisting of 914 4th-5th grade children (overall, 9.2% of children with asthma) from seven randomly selected, consenting participating schools (n = 21 classrooms per grade, 2 to 4 classrooms per grade per school). Six schools used paper versions of tools while one school used electronic versions. The authors presented attendance results in various aggregated manners. Absence was higher (ADA lower) among 4th grade asthmatic students compared to the entire classroom.


This study can inform future interdisciplinary school-based research combining health and student academic productivity, adult work performance outcomes, and other measures.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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