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Asthma is a chronic inflammatory lung disease characterized by recurrent episodes of breathlessness, wheezing, and coughing. From 1980 through 1996, the number of Americans afflicted with asthma more than doubled to almost 15 million. Learning how to manage asthma as a chronic disease is a major challenge for people with asthma and their families.

To address this challenge, numerous approaches have been developed and implemented in a variety of community settings including schools, clinics, and homes. These approaches range from the sole provision of asthma education to more comprehensive strategies including education, skill development, counseling, and environmental control strategies (e.g., dust-mite impermeable bedcovers, professional house cleaning, and pest extermination). In the past, identification of interventions that have been demonstrated in a research setting to be effective has required extensive effort. People interested in knowing “what works” before developing new or implementing proven programs either spent a substantial amount of time identifying potential model programs or relied on the advice of others more familiar with the breadth and content of existing asthma interventions.

To assist in the identification of effective interventions, the National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), contracted with ORC Macro and MAS Consultants to identify potentially effective interventions and to describe and document research-based asthma-control interventions that are being implemented in communities. These projects had two components: a) an extensive and ongoing literature search and review to identify and highlight potentially effective interventions, and b) the development of case studies to provide insight from communities that have implemented these interventions.

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