Racial and ethnic differences in the management of childhood asthma in the United States

J Asthma. 2012 Oct;49(8):785-91. doi: 10.3109/02770903.2012.702840. Epub 2012 Jul 11.


Objectives: We examined racial and ethnic differences in the management of childhood asthma in the United States and the extent that care conformed to clinical best practices.

Methods: Two years of pooled data from the National Health Interview Survey were analyzed using logistic regression. The sample included all children between ages 2 and 17 years who had asthma currently and had been diagnosed with asthma by a doctor or health professional (n = 1757; 465 African-American, 212 Mexican-American, 190 Puerto Rican and other Hispanic, 806 white, non-Hispanic, and 84 children of other and multiple races and ethnicities).

Results: African-American children with asthma were significantly less likely than white, non-Hispanic children to have taken preventive asthma medication, but more likely to have had an asthma management plan. Mexican-American and Puerto Rican and other Hispanic children did not differ significantly from white, non-Hispanic children in either receiving preventive asthma medication or having an asthma management plan. Caregivers of African-American and Puerto Rican and other Hispanic children were more likely to report that they or their child had taken a course or class on how to manage their child's asthma. We did not find racial or ethnic differences in the extent children used quick-relief asthma medication or received advice about reducing asthma triggers in their home, school, or work environments.

Conclusions: This work highlights a need for more research on racial and ethnic differences in asthma management. Implications for public health responses and racial and ethnic disparities in asthma morbidity are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • African Americans
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Asthma / ethnology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Female
  • Healthcare Disparities / ethnology*
  • Hispanic Americans
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mexican Americans
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States


  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents