Background: National guidelines suggest that, with appropriate care, most patients can control their asthma. The probabilities of children achieving and maintaining control with ongoing care are unknown.
Objective: We sought to evaluate the degree to which children in a lower socioeconomic urban setting achieve and maintain control of asthma with regular participation in a disease management program that provides guideline-based care.
Methods: Interdisciplinary teams of asthma specialists use mobile clinics to offer ongoing care at schools and county clinics. A guideline-derived construct of asthma control is recorded at each visit.
Results: Two thousand one hundred eighty-five enrollees were eligible to evaluate the time to first achieve control, and 1591 patients were eligible to evaluate subsequent control maintenance. Depending on severity, 70% to 87% of patients with persistent asthma achieved control by visit 3, and 89% to 98% achieved control by visit 6. Subsequent control maintenance was highly variable. Thirty-nine percent of patients displayed well-controlled asthma (control at >90% of subsequent visits), whereas 13% displayed difficult-to-control asthma (<50% of subsequent visits). Patients from each baseline severity category were found in each group. Maintenance of control was influenced by physician-estimated compliance with the treatment plan, baseline severity, and the interval between clinic visits.
Conclusions: Many children can achieve asthma control with regular visit intervals and guideline-based care; however, long-term control can be highly variable among patients in all severity categories.
Clinical implications: These findings highlight the need and feasibility for systematically tracking each patient's clinical response to individualize therapy and guide the use of population management strategies.