Medications Used by Children With Asthma Living in the Inner City

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Abstract

Design

The design of the study was a cross-sectional questionnaire survey.

Setting

Patients and their families recruited from elementary schools in a community setting were interviewed between December 1991 and January 1992.

Participants

A total of 508 children with asthma were identified by school health records and teacher surveys. Their families confirmed the diagnosis and agreed to enter the study. Questionnaires were completed by 392 families.

Intervention

The 392 families participated in a controlled trial of asthma education after providing the data that are the basis of this report.

Results

More than half of the children took two or more medications for asthma. Thirty-one percent took theophylline alone or in combination with an adrenergic agent; 11% took some form of daily antiinflammatory medication, either cromolyn (8%) or inhaled steroids (3%). The pattern of medication use related to measures of severity and to regular visits to physicians or nurses. In general, however, children were undermedicated. A total of 78 children (20%) reported no medication or over-the-counter medication use, although 37% reported asthma severe enough to be associated with > or = to 20 days of school missed per month, and 37% had had an emergency room visit for asthma in the past 6 months. More than half of children > or = to 9 years old supervised their own medication.

Conclusions

We concluded that undermedication is common in poor children with asthma living in urban areas. Antiinflammatory medications are used less commonly than in the general population, and theophylline is used more often. School children may be likely to supervise their own medication. Pediatrics 1998;101:349-354.

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