Availability of Asthma Quick Relief Medication in Five Alabama School Systems

Pediatr Allergy Immunol Pulmonol. 2012 Mar;25(1):11-16. doi: 10.1089/ped.2011.0118.


OBJECTIVES: This paper documents individual asthma action plan presence and quick relief medication (albuterol) availability for elementary students enrolled in five Alabama school systems. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Data were obtained during baseline data collection (fall 2005) of a school-based supervised asthma medication trial. All students attended 1 of 36 participating elementary schools across five school systems in Jefferson County, Alabama. In addition, they had to have physician-diagnosed asthma requiring daily controller medication. Each school system had its own superintendent and elected school board. Asthma action plan presence and albuterol availability was confirmed by study personnel. Asthma action plans had to contain daily and acute asthma management instructions. Predictors of asthma action plan presence and albuterol availability were also investigated. Associations between albuterol availability and self-reported characteristics including health care utilization prior to study enrollment and outcomes during the study baseline period were also investigated. RESULTS: Enrolled students had a mean (SD) age of 11.0 (2.1) years, 91% were African American, and 79% had moderate persistent asthma. No student had a complete asthma action plan on file and only 14% had albuterol physically available at school. Albuterol availability was not predicted by gender, race, insurance status, second-hand smoke exposure, need for pre-exercise albuterol, asthma severity, or self-reported health care utilization prior to study enrollment. Albuterol availability did not predict school absences, red/yellow peak flow recordings, or medication adherence during the study's baseline period. CONCLUSION: Despite policies permitting students to possess albuterol, few elementary students across five independent school systems in Alabama actually had it readily available at school.