Enhancing medication adherence among inner-city children with asthma: results from pilot studies

J Asthma. 2002 Feb;39(1):47-54. doi: 10.1081/jas-120000806.


Despite the availability of effective treatments that aid in controlling asthma symptoms, inner-city children with asthma have high rates of morbidity and are frequent users of emergency department services. The goal of these studies was to pilot test an intervention that used social learning strategies (e.g., goal-setting, monitoring, feedback, reinforcement, and enhanced self-efficacy) and targeted known barriers to individualize a family-based asthma action plan. Participants were 15 children with asthma, aged 7-12 years, who had been prescribed at least one daily inhaled steroid. The children and their mothers lived in inner-city Baltimore and all were African-American. Participants received up to five visits in their home by a nurse. Electronic monitors were installed on the children's MDI to provide immediate feedback on medication adherence to the families and validate medication use. At baseline, only 28.6% of the children were using their medications as prescribed. Within four weeks, the number of children who were using their medications appropriately doubled from 28.6% at baseline to 54.1% (90% increase; p = 0.004), while underutilization decreased from 51.2% to 25.4% (100% decrease; p = 0.02). The number of children with no medication use at all dropped from 28.3% at baseline to 15.1% by week 5 (87% decrease; p = 0.009). Thus, within four weeks, more than half the children were using their inhaled steroids appropriately. In addition, the rate of underutilization decreased and that of nonutilization was cut in half. Our initial data suggest that an individualized, home-based intervention can significantly enhance adherence to the daily use of inhaled steroids in inner-city children with asthma. Nevertheless, adherence to daily inhaled steroid therapy remains a significant problem in this group.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Asthma / ethnology
  • Baltimore / epidemiology
  • Bronchodilator Agents / administration & dosage
  • Bronchodilator Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Nebulizers and Vaporizers
  • Patient Compliance
  • Pilot Projects
  • Poverty Areas
  • Steroids


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Bronchodilator Agents
  • Steroids