Identification and education of adolescents with asthma in an urban school district: results from a large-scale asthma intervention

J Urban Health. 2008 May;85(3):361-74. doi: 10.1007/s11524-008-9266-y. Epub 2008 Mar 11.


Asthma is a leading cause of hospitalizations, acute care utilization, health care costs, and school absences in children. Asthma morbidity is disproportionately high in inner city populations. In general, community-based public health interventions to reduce asthma morbidity have had modest success due in part to their limited reach and low participation by the targeted population. Adolescents have been especially difficult to reach. A coalition of community organizations developed a school-based, population-level system to identify, prioritize, and provide interventions for middle school children with asthma in a large urban school district in Oakland, CA. Nearly 92% (n = 8,326) of students in the targeted schools took an asthma case identification survey. Of those students who took the survey, 17.5% (n = 1,458) had active asthma and were eligible for services. Among those identified with active asthma, 83% (n = 1,217) voluntarily attended asthma self-management classes at school. The 4-week curriculum previously has been shown to significantly improve several indicators of asthma control in this population. Retention was high-72% of students who enrolled attended at least three of the four curriculum sessions. Many higher-risk students were subsequently referred to and enrolled in off-site asthma services. Large school districts with incomplete or inadequate health records, high asthma prevalence, and internal or external services available for students with asthma may benefit from a similar model. A system such as the one described may be an effective public health strategy for school districts, health departments, and community coalitions addressing asthma or other conditions with high childhood prevalence.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism
  • Adolescent
  • Asthma / diagnosis*
  • Asthma / epidemiology
  • Asthma / therapy
  • California / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • School Health Services / organization & administration
  • Self Care
  • Urban Health*