Medical College of Wisconsin study shows better parent-physician communication can substantially prevent hospitalizations for childhood asthma

Each year, some 196,000 children are hospitalized in the United States with asthma attacks. In addition to the severe breathing problems that the children may experience, it also costs the health care system an estimated $835 million to treat them.

A new study by a Medical College of Wisconsin researcher indicates that up to half of childhood asthma hospitalizations could be prevented with improved parent-physician communication regarding the child's condition, medication, follow-up care and asthma triggers.

Results of the studies appeared in the October issue of Pediatrics, the peer-reviewed, scientific journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The study was led by Glenn Flores, MD, FAAP, associate professor of pediatrics, epidemiology and health policy at the Medical College in Milwaukee, and director of the Center for the Advancement of Underserved Children, a joint program of the Medical College and Children's Hospital of Wisconsin.

In the study, researchers surveyed parents, doctors and attending physicians of children admitted for asthma to an urban hospital over 14 months. Of the 230 hospitalized children, most were older (median age of five), poor and non-white, with public or private health insurance. Most children had not had a physician visit or contact before hospital admission.

The study showed that 83 percent of primary care physicians, 67 percent of attending physicians and 44 percent of parents cited parent/patient related issues as the reasons why the hospitalizations could have been prevented. It concluded that an estimated 15 to 54 percent of asthmarelated hospitalizations are preventable, especially those that involve adolescents and families who had not contacted physicians prior to hospitalization.

"We found that many pediatric asthma hospitalizations could be prevented if parents were better educated about the child's condition, what medications they should be taking, the need for fo

Contact: Toranj Marphetia
Medical College of Wisconsin

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