Closing the gap: Understanding African American asthma knowledge and beliefs

Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2018 Oct;121(4):458-463. doi: 10.1016/j.anai.2018.07.015.


Background: African American children are disproportionately affected by asthma (13% vs 8% non-Hispanic white Americans) and experience 30% higher asthma-related deaths than whites. Knowledge regarding asthma and asthma treatment among African Americans has been postulated as a potential contributor to this observed health disparity. Compared with the amount of studies on asthma, few investigations provide insight into the baseline knowledge and beliefs of African Americans regarding asthma.

Objective: Assess knowledge and beliefs regarding asthma symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, prognosis, and stigmas in a general community sample of African Americans.

Methods: Using community-based participatory research techniques, we developed and implemented a cross-sectional survey to explore asthma knowledge and beliefs among African American adults in a Midwestern city.

Results: Among the 158 African American adults who completed the survey, general asthma knowledge was good, with awareness of the genetic contribution to asthma and general asthma symptomatology (eg, 92% aware of nighttime cough as a symptom). However, asthma-related misconceptions were also revealed. Thirty-three percent of respondents were concerned about addiction to asthma medication, and 60% of respondents believed that inhaled corticosteroids were dangerous or did not know.

Conclusion: This study reveals important insights into asthma knowledge and beliefs among African Americans that may be used to address disparities in asthma outcomes in this population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Black or African American*
  • Community-Based Participatory Research
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Health Status Disparities
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult