Predicting asthma morbidity in Harlem emergency department patients

Gene R. Pesola, Feng Xu, Habibul Ahsan, Pamela Sternfels, Ilan H. Meyer, Jean G. Ford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Objectives To determine predictors of asthma morbidity in African American patients with asthma. Proxies for asthma morbidity were emergency department (ED) visits for asthma and hospitalizations for asthma. Methods This was a prospective observational study that evaluated baseline predictors of asthma morbidity in adults in an urban, predominantly African American community in New York City. Potential predictors of asthma morbidity evaluated were education, gender, employment status, current smoking status, asthma severity, duration of asthma, daily use of a peak flow meter, presence or absence of pets at home, presence or absence of a significant other, presence or absence of medical insurance, and previous hospitalization for asthma in the past year. Follow-up consisted of a repeat questionnaire obtained between nine and 15 months after the baseline questionnaire. Follow-up data collection was limited to the last three-month history of ED visits or hospitalizations before the follow-up visit. At follow-up, the baseline predictors were related to the presence or absence of ED visits for asthma or hospitalizations for asthma. All predictors were evaluated individually (crude odds ratio [OR]) and simultaneously (adjusted OR) in a logistic regression model with the dichotomous outcome variable ED visits or hospitalization. Results Return ED visits on follow-up were more likely to occur in asthma patients hospitalized in the previous year (adjusted OR, 3.9; 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.7 to 9.0) and were less likely to occur in asthma patients with pets (OR, 0.4; 95% CI=0.2 to 0.9). Patients with moderate/severe asthma, relative to patients with mild asthma, were more likely to be seen in the ED on follow-up on initial analysis (crude OR, 2.4; 95% CI=1.1 to 1.5), but the adjusted OR was not significant. Follow-up hospitalizations were significantly more likely to occur only in subjects reporting daily use of a peak flow meter (OR, 6.8; 95% CI=1.3 to 34.5). Subjects hospitalized for asthma in the previous year were more likely to be hospitalized subsequently on initial analysis (crude OR, 2.9; 95% CI=1.0 to 8.1), but the adjusted OR was not significant. Conclusions It appears that African American patients with asthma who had previous hospitalizations for asthma within the past year or use a peak flow meter daily (a marker for more severe asthma) are more likely to visit the ED in the future or to be hospitalized for asthma, respectively. These patients need to be targeted and treated more aggressively to improve asthma care and decrease morbidity. The apparent protective effect of the presence of pets on reducing ED visits is unclear at this time, and the findings need to be replicated and evaluated further.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)944-950
Number of pages7
JournalAcademic Emergency Medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • African American
  • asthma morbidity
  • emergency department
  • peak expiratory flow
  • pets and asthma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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