New Research: Trends in racial disparities for asthma outcomes among children

"Trends in Racial Disparities for Asthma Outcomes among Children 0 to 17 Years, 2001-2010."

Authors: Akinbami, Lara J., MD, Jeanne E. Moorman, MS, Alan E. Simon, MD, and Kenneth C. Schoendorf, MD

Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Volume 134.3 (2014), 547-553

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Background –
Racial disparities in childhood asthma have been a long-standing target for intervention, especially disparities in hospitalization and mortality.

Objectives –
Describe trends in racial disparities in asthma outcomes using both traditional population-based rates and at-risk rates (based on the estimated number of children with asthma) to account for prevalence differences between race groups.

Methods –
Estimates of asthma prevalence and outcomes (emergency department [ED] visits, hospitalizations, and deaths) were calculated from national data for 2001 to 2010 for black and white children. Trends were calculated using weighted loglinear regression, and changes in racial disparities over time were assessed using Joinpoint.

Results –
Disparities in asthma prevalence between black and white children increased from 2001 to 2010; at the end of this period, black children were twice as likely as white children to have asthma. Population-based rates showed that disparities in asthma outcomes remained stable (ED visits and hospitalizations) or increased (asthma attack prevalence, deaths). In contrast, analysis with at-risk rates, which account for differences in asthma prevalence, showed that disparities in asthma outcomes remained stable (deaths), decreased (ED visits, hospitalizations), or did not exist (asthma attack prevalence).

Conclusions –
Using at-risk rates to assess racial disparities in asthma outcomes accounts for prevalence differences between black and white children, and adds another perspective to the population-based examination of asthma disparities. An at-risk rate analysis shows that among children with asthma, there is no disparity for asthma attack prevalence and that progress has been made in decreasing disparities in asthma ED visit and hospitalization rates.

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