Innovative Program Improves Health Outcomes for Puerto Rican Children with Asthma

Children living in Puerto Rico have the highest asthma prevalence of all U.S. children, but little is known about how best to intervene and manage it, especially for impoverished and medically underserved communities. The University of Puerto Rico School of Public Health, in collaboration with the RAND Corporation, created La Red, a multi-year childhood asthma program in San Juan. By combining and adapting key components of two existing evidence-based asthma interventions, La Red researchers developed a novel approach that resulted in improvements in the quality of care for children with asthma in two housing projects. The program adapts and combines elements of both the Yes We Can clinic-based intervention and the Inner-City Asthma Study home-based intervention for asthmatic children in a public housing community in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Study investigator Marielena Lara-Greenberg authored the article published in the supplement to the March issue of Pediatrics, entitled “Reducing Quality-of-Care Disparities in Childhood Asthma: La Red de Asma Infantil Intervention in San Juan, Puerto Rico.”

The results of the study reveal that combining existing evidence-based asthma interventions improved the health and quality of life for low-income and minority asthmatic children in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Children with moderate to severe asthma not only experienced a significant reduction in asthma symptoms, emergency room visits and hospitalizations, but helped caregivers recognize when a child is suffering from an asthma attack and how to identify asthma symptoms early. The intervention was also associated with a significant reduction in health care costs for asthma-related emergency department visits and hospitalizations.