$3.8 M Grant to Fund Asthma Intervention Study

Project Looks at Simple Changes to Doctor Visits to Help Improve Kids’ Health

February 05, 2009

Many children with asthma have uncontrolled symptoms, and effective therapies are often underused. That’s why Jill Halterman, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of Pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong, designed a local study to look at whether simple interventions at Rochester doctors’ office visits could make a difference for children with asthma.

The $3.8 million-project, funded by the NIH’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, aims to enroll 600 urban children in Monroe County in its 5-year study. Children with significant asthma will be randomly selected from 12 area pediatric and family medicine practices. Half the children will be in the control group and will receive usual care, while the other half will see some changes in their office visits.

“The goal is to improve these children’s symptoms without adding much additional work for parents or doctors,” Halterman said. “We hope that kids will have more symptom-free days and that the intervention will be effective and easy to implement for any practice.”

The intervention includes a short questionnaire that parents fill out on a computer in the waiting area prior to their visit with the provider. The computer uses the information to produce a report for the provider that classifies the child’s asthma severity according to national guidelines, and lists simple guideline-based preventive care measures that could be taken during the visit. For example, providers might be prompted to start a new preventive asthma medication for a child or to provide smoking cessation counseling for parents of children who are exposed to smoke.  

The participating practices also will receive feedback on their provision of preventive asthma care and on their patient’s clinical outcomes. For example, they’ll see how many children were prescribed preventive medications and how many children were scheduled for follow-up visits, among other measures of preventive care.

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