Inner City Asthma

Implemented in El Rio Santa Cruz Community Health Center, Tucson, Arizona by MAS Consultants Inc., P.O. Box 5130 Aiken, South Carolina 29804.

This case study was prepared for CDC by Dr. LaMar Palmer of MAS Consultants. The purpose of the case study is to share the experience of one community as they attempt to address the problem of asthma. It does not represent an endorsement of this approach by CDC.

Inner City Asthma: Lessons Learned

Know as much as possible about the people you serve.

Knowledge of people’s likes and dislikes and their expectations for themselves and their children and for the program is important for an effective intervention. For example, because some American Indian families expect their children to self-manage their asthma, fully engaging Indian parents of older children in the program is sometimes difficult. Second, people in the El Rio program generally do not like the role-play exercises in the learning sessions or discussions of their children’s asthma history or condition. Compensatory measures are used to overcome these realities to meet the objectives. For instance, in this program, focusing the educational intervention on the child has been helpful, with parents participating in sessions and learning through interactions with the children. During introductions of the group session, children introduce the parents they brought with them, then the families split into group sessions. Third, slowing the educational intervention by allowing more time for participants to become acquainted and feel more comfortable in these roles also is advisable.

Seek financial assistance early and often.

Organizations and businesses stand ready to help health-care programs. At El Rio, for example, Dr. Enright has obtained used vacuum cleaners and repaired them for use in homes where none previously existed. He also has acquired used nebulizers from a supplier at below market cost. Pharmaceutical companies donated $3,000 to purchase incentives for the families. A medical supply company donated spacers for use with inhalers. The American Lung Association provided peak flow meters at half price. Donations and cut-rate purchases help keep the program costs down.

Page last reviewed: April 24, 2009