Improving Adherence in Urban Youth With Asthma: Role of Community Health Workers

J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2022 Dec;10(12):3186-3193. doi: 10.1016/j.jaip.2022.08.030. Epub 2022 Sep 1.


Background: The Asthma Action at Erie Trial is a comparative effectiveness trial comparing a community health worker (CHW) versus certified asthma educator (AE-C) intervention in low-income minority children.

Objectives: Determine whether asthma medication possession, adherence, technique, and triggers differ in children receiving an asthma CHW compared with an AE-C intervention.

Methods: Children with uncontrolled asthma were randomized to receive 10 CHW home visits or 2 AE-C sessions in a clinic over 1 year. Asthma medication possession and inhaler technique were observed; adherence was measured using self-report, dose counters, and electronic monitors. Environmental triggers were captured by self-report, observation, and objective measurement. Mixed effects linear and logistic regression models were estimated for continuous and binary outcomes.

Results: Children (n = 223) were mainly Hispanic (85%) and ages 5 to 16 years. Quick-relievers (82%), spacers (72%), and inhaled corticosteroid (ICS)-containing medications (44%) were tracked. Of those with uncontrolled asthma, 35% lacked an ICS prescription (n = 201). Children in the CHW arm were more likely to have an ICS prescription at 12 months (odds ratio 2.39; 95% CI 0.99-5.79). Inhaler technique improved 9.8% in the CHW arm at 6 months (95% CI 4.20-15.32). The ICS adherence improved in the CHW arm at 12 months, with a 16.0% (95% CI 2.3-29.7; P = .02) difference between arms. Differences in trigger exposure over time were not observed between arms.

Conclusions: The CHW services were associated with improved ICS adherence and inhaler technique, compared with AE-C services. More information is needed to determine the necessary dosage of intervention to sustain adherence.

Keywords: Asthma; Behavioral clinical trial; Certified asthma educators; Community health workers; Patient navigators; Pediatrics.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Adolescent
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Asthma* / drug therapy
  • Asthma* / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Community Health Workers
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Humans
  • Medication Adherence
  • Nebulizers and Vaporizers


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents