A pilot study to enhance preventive asthma care among urban adolescents with asthma

Jill S. Halterman, Kristin Riekert, Alison Bayer, Maria Fagnano, Paul Tremblay, Susan Blaakman, Belinda Borrelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Background. Low-income, minority teens have disproportionately high rates of asthma morbidity and are at high risk for nonadherence to preventive medications. Objective. To assess the feasibility and preliminary effectiveness of an innovative school-based asthma program to enhance the delivery of preventive care for 12-15 year olds with persistent asthma. We hypothesized that this intervention would (1) be feasible and acceptable among this population and (2) yield reduced asthma morbidity. Design/methods. Subjects/setting: Teens with persistent asthma and a current preventive medication prescription in Rochester, NY. Design: Single group pre-post pilot study during the 2009-2010 school year. Intervention: Teens visited the school nurse daily for 6-8 weeks at the start of the school year to receive directly observed therapy (DOT) of preventive asthma medications; 2-4 weeks following DOT initiation, they received three counseling sessions (one in-home and two via telephone) using motivational interviewing (MI) to explore attitudes about asthma management, build motivation for medication adherence, and support transition to independent preventive medication use. Primary outcome: Number of symptom-free days (SFDs)/2 weeks; outcome data were collected 2 months after baseline and at the end of school year. Results. We enrolled 30 teens; 28 participated in the intervention. All teens initiated a trial of school-based DOT. All in-home MI visits were completed successfully, and 89% completed both follow-up sessions. Teens experienced an overall reduction of symptoms with more SFDs/2 weeks from baseline to 2-month and final (end of school year) assessments (8.71 vs. 10.79 vs. 12.89, respectively, p = .046 and p = .004). Teens also reported fewer days with symptoms, less activity limitation, and less rescue medication use (all p < .05). Exhaled nitric oxide levels decreased (p = .012), suggesting less airway inflammation. At the final assessment, teens reported significantly higher motivation to take their preventive medication every day (p = .043). At the end of the study, 79% of teens stated that they were better at managing asthma on their own, and 93% said they would participate in a similar program again. Conclusions. This pilot study provides preliminary evidence of the feasibility and effectiveness of a novel school-based intervention to promote independence in asthma management and improve asthma outcomes in urban teens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)523-530
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Asthma
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2011


  • adolescents
  • asthma
  • preventive care
  • schools
  • urban

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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