Objective: To determine if an emergency department-based asthma follow-up clinic could improve outcomes within a high-morbidity pediatric population.
Design: Prospective, randomized clinical trial with 6 months of follow-up.
Setting: Emergency department of an urban pediatric medical center.
Participants: Convenience sample of 488 patients aged 12 months to 17 years, inclusive, with prior physician-diagnosed asthma and 1 or more other unscheduled visits in the previous 6 months and/or 1 or more hospitalizations in the prior 12 months.
Intervention: Single follow-up clinic visit focusing on 3 domains: asthma self-monitoring and management, environmental modification and trigger control, and linkages and referrals to ongoing care.
Main outcome measures: The primary outcome measure was unscheduled visits for acute asthma care. Secondary outcomes included compliance with a medical plan and asthma quality of life. Analysis was by intention to treat with adjustment for baseline differences.
Results: Of those randomized to the clinic visit, 172 (70.5%) of 244 attended. The intervention group had significantly fewer mean unscheduled visits for asthma care during follow-up (1.39 vs 2.34; relative risk [RR] = 0.60 [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.46-0.77]). At 6 months, significantly more patients in the intervention group reported use of inhaled corticosteroids in the prior 2 days (49.3% vs 26.5%; RR = 2.03 [95% CI, 1.57-2.62]), no limitation in daytime quality of life (43.8% vs 34.4%; RR = 1.36 [95% CI, 1.06-1.73]), and no functional limitations in quality of life (49.8% vs 40.8%; RR = 1.33 [95% CI, 1.08-1.63]).
Conclusion: Attendance in the follow-up clinic was high. The intervention decreased subsequent unscheduled health care use while improving compliance and quality of life.