Background: A number of studies have demonstrated disproportionate hospitalization and mortality rates in US urban areas. Yet, no published population-based studies have examined the burden of asthma on the residents of a particular urban area known to be at high risk for poor asthma outcomes.
Objectives: To examine asthma morbidity and medical care in a population-based sample of adults and children with asthma residing in the greater Chicago, IL, metropolitan area and to explore social and demographic influences on morbidity and treatment.
Methods: A telephone survey of adults living in the Chicago metropolitan area was conducted from November 1999 through December 2000.
Results: The final sample included 152 adults and children with active asthma. Emergency department visits and hospitalizations for asthma in the previous year were reported by 25.7% and 6.6% of respondents, respectively. Of current medication users, 32.2% reported current regular use of controller medications. After adjusting for age, sex, income, education, and reported current pharmacotherapy, compared with white individuals, African American individuals remained 6.3 times more likely to have experienced an emergency department visit and 12.3 times more likely to have been hospitalized.
Conclusions: These findings suggest that poorly controlled asthma remains a prevalent problem for persons with asthma in this metropolitan area and that a large gap remains between the goals of asthma therapy and appropriate treatment as defined by the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program. The reasons for disparate treatment and health outcomes by race/ethnicity and income need further study and intervention.