Childhood Asthma is a Community Affair

Childhood asthma management in urban environments

(RxWiki News) Visiting your family doctor is an obvious decision in handling your child's asthma. A new report says that care should extend past the doctor's office and into the community.

A new study shows that management of childhood asthma should go beyond just a trip to the doctor and into the communities, homes and schools of children.

Having a community manage childhood asthma led to parents becoming better educated on handling asthma, a reduction in hospital visits and better school attendance.

"Ask your doctor about asthma education programs."

Community-based care can include partnering with schools, community organizations, asthma educators, health workers, nurses and care managers working in the community to build trust and educate parents.

Recent studies by the Merck Childhood Asthma Network, Inc. (MCAN) looked at “real world” management of childhood asthma. The MCAN programs were conducted for four years in Philadelphia, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Juan, Puerto Rico and focused on children who came from low-income situations and had poorly managed asthma.

Through evidence-based intervention programs and community-based care, the five programs were effective in improving asthma management.

Evidence-based intervention programs look at things like access to a doctor, allergens in the air or living in an area with heavy car traffic which can be factors in poor asthma management in an urban environment.

The researchers can then adjust these behaviors, such as walking a different way to avoid heavy car traffic, in order to improve asthma management.

According to Leonard Jack, Jr., Ph.D., MSc, CHES, editor-in-chief, Health Promotion Practice, children are not getting the proper care they need to effectively manage their asthma. Even in large cities which pose many difficulties, the results of the studies have healthcare providers optimistic about this communal approach to asthma management.

In most of the five cities, hospitalizations were down 50 percent. School absences due to asthma were decreased by 80 percent in almost all the cities and parents felt they could properly manage their child's asthma. Two-thirds of the children had received action plans to manage and monitor their asthma.

The impressive results of the study have researchers looking at more ways to apply community-based management to study possible long-term benefits.

More importantly the MCAN study shows how important an active approach, in terms of getting the community and parents involved, is to managing asthma.

This study was published in the November edition of Health Promotion Practice.

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Review Date: 
November 15, 2011