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A Community Toolkit to Improve Asthma Care for Rural Children

More than four million people with asthma live outside of urban areas, and most are seen in primary care settings where their asthma is often inadequately managed, representing a significant gap in care. Rural health disparities for children with asthma include poverty, limited access to care, and environmental challenges including high levels of outdoor and indoor particulate exposure. The Asthma Toolkit program has translated evidence-based asthma care into both rural and urban primary care practices. Although this program has produced evidence of increased guidelines-concordant care, much room exists for improvement. We believe that by deploying Asthma Toolkit training in a larger program that includes community, school, and family engagement, quality of care and health outcomes can be improved for rural children with asthma. This project will bring together investigators from the University of Arizona and National Jewish Health to 1) engage three communities on the Navajo Nation to build a successful collaboration (U34); and 2) conduct a randomized pragmatic trial of a community rural pediatric asthma program (U01). During the initial empowerment phase, we will solidify relationships with community stakeholders including patients, parents, community leaders, hospital administrators, schools, and providers. A group of stakeholder advisors will be created to inform and guide the subsequent study.  In the second (U01) phase, we will employ a step wedge, randomized trial design to test the capacity of the Community Asthma Toolkit program to improve care and outcomes.  The provider component will include comprehensive training in evidence-based pediatric asthma care. The school component will work to improve capacity to identify pediatric asthma and facilitate communication between school, family, and provider. The hospital component will help provide structured communication between hospital clinicians and primary care providers to improve outpatient management and prevent unnecessary urgent care utilization. Finally, the air quality component will assess community and provider concerns about indoor and outdoor air quality and determine potential methods to measure and reduce environmental risks to children with asthma. The final trial will be modified in accord with stakeholder input during the engagement phase. We believe that the intervention could serve as a model for implementation of strategies to improve asthma care in rural children.

Start Year: 
2015
End Year: 
2016
Researchers: 
Lynn Gerald

The University of Arizona