Background: Asthma severity, control, type of medical regimen provided, and compliance with it are not well understood in minority patients at the transition stage from childhood to adolescence.
Objective: Describe the level of asthma severity and control and the clinical regimens provided to a large population of low-income, African American children at this developmentally significant period.
Methods: Parents of 1292 children with asthma among 6827 preteens in 19 middle schools in predominantly African American (94%), low-income neighborhoods in Detroit, Michigan, were enrolled in the study. Data were collected through self-administered survey and telephone interviews and were useable for 936 participants. Study queries related to demographics, asthma symptoms, and medication use. Mixed effects models with a random intercept for school were used to determine severity and control and the association of medical regimens to these.
Results: Sixty-seven percent of children with probable asthma had received a physician's diagnosis. Being female was associated with being undiagnosed (p = .02). Forty-seven with no diagnosis had persistent asthma and 10% of these were classified as severe. Sixty-eight percent with a diagnosis and asthma medicine prescriptions were not controlled. Compliant use of controller medicine was associated with poorer asthma control compared to noncompliant controller users (p = .04) and reliever-only users (p < .001). Thirty-nine percent of children had controller medicine; of those 40% were not compliant with controller use; 9% nebulized their controller medicine.
Conclusions: Care provided low-income minority children at an important stage in their development was not consistent with guidelines for asthma control. Therapy choices for treatment did not account for the actual level of their symptoms. Lack of an asthma diagnosis was significant in the population. Adolescent girls were at risk for not receiving a diagnosis. Patient compliance with asthma regimens was limited. Both clinician and patient education regarding effective asthma management appears needed regarding preteens in low-income minority communities.