Objective: The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of using Community Health Workers (CHWs) to deliver the home-based Wee Wheezers asthma education program on asthma symptoms among children with persistent asthma.
Methods: In this randomized controlled trial of 151 children aged 2-9 years with persistent asthma, we assigned 75 to the intervention and 76 to the control. The primary outcome was caregiver-reported asthma symptom days. Secondary outcomes included asthma-related healthcare utilization, caregivers' asthma knowledge, illness perception and management behaviors, MDI-spacer administration technique, and home environmental triggers. Outcomes were collected at baseline, 3, 6, 9 and 12 months. A repeated measurements analytic approach with generalized estimating equations was used. To account for missing data, multiple imputation methods were employed.
Results: At 3 and 6 months, improvement in symptom days was not significantly different between groups. However, at 9 and 12 months, the reduction in asthma symptom days was 2.15 and 2.31 days more respectively for those in the intervention group compared to the control. Improvements in MDI-spacer technique, knowledge and attitudes were significant throughout follow-up. Improvement in habits regarding MDI use was significant at 3 and 6 months, and asthma routines were improved at 3 months. However, there was no change in asthma-related healthcare utilization or home environmental triggers.
Conclusion: Using CHWs to deliver a home-based asthma education program to caregivers of children with persistent asthma led to improvements in symptom days and several secondary outcomes. Expanding the use of CHWs to provide home-based interventions can help reduce disparities in children's health outcomes.
Keywords: Children; Wee Wheezers; community health workers; education; home intervention.