Hispanic and black kids less likely to use medication to control asthma

by Katherine Kahn

(Medical Xpress)—Black and Hispanic children with asthma are less likely than White children to use long-term asthma control medications, finds a new study in Health Services Research.

Eric Sarpong, PhD, the study's lead author commented, "Several studies continue to find that minority children are less likely to use recommended controller medications and more likely to use relievers to manage the disease."

Reliever medications are quick-acting drugs used to manage acute symptoms of asthma. The National Asthma Education and Prevention Program recommends that long-term controller medications—medications taken daily to reduce and prevent onset of —should be used to achieve and maintain control of .

Sarpong and Edward Miller, Ph.D., researchers at the federal Agency for Health Research and Quality, wanted to research the contributing factors for this disparity in medication use.

The study used nationally representative data from the 2005-2008 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, the 2000 Decennial Census, and the 2004-2007 National Health Interview Survey and included data on both privately and publicly insured children.

Living in the western United States and having non-native parents was linked with the majority of the difference in medication use between Hispanic and White children. Lower family income and a lower likelihood of having parents who are married was also associated with the difference in controller use for both Black and Hispanic children.

However, much of the difference in controller use by Black children compared to White children was largely unexplained. This finding was observed even when taking insurance status into account. "This may point to biases in the health system, maybe in prescribing patterns, or in the quality of care," Sarpong says.

Glenn Flores, M.D., professor of pediatrics at the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas, considers healthcare provider and healthcare system bias to be a prominent factor in sub-optimal asthma care. "Too often we're blaming the kids or the families when, in fact, it may be we as healthcare providers or the healthcare system that's responsible for not just this racial and ethnic disparity, but many racial and ethnic disparities," he says.

Flores also considers inadequate patient and family education, healthcare provider failure to schedule follow-up care, and failure to provide prescriptions for medication refills to be key areas for improvement. He also emphasizes the importance of access to specialty care, which has been shown to improve outcomes in . "We and others have shown that minority kids in general—no matter what condition you're looking at—have lower access to specialty care," he says.

More information: Sarpong, E. and Miller, G. Racial and ethnic differences in childhood asthma treatment in the United States, Health Services Research. (2013).

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Poor asthma control prevalent in the united states

Feb 28, 2012

(HealthDay) -- Many patients with asthma who do not use controller medications have persistent disease, and among those patients who do use controller medications, few have well-controlled disease, according ...

Children's asthma affected by parental expectations

Oct 06, 2008

Asthmatic children whose parents have high expectations for their ability to function normally are less likely to have symptoms than other children dealing with the condition, according to a new study. Children also are more ...

Recommended for you

S.Korea detects second foot-and-mouth case

25 minutes ago

South Korea on Monday reported its second case of foot-and-mouth disease in less than a week, triggering fearful memories of a devastating 2011 outbreak that forced the culling of millions of livestock.

Ebola kills Liberian doctor, 2 Americans infected

55 minutes ago

(AP)—One of Liberia's most high-profile doctors has died of Ebola, officials said Sunday, and an American physician was being treated for the deadly virus, highlighting the risks facing health workers trying ...

Hepatitis C virus genotype 1 is most prevalent worldwide

1 hour ago

In one of the largest prevalence studies to date, researchers from the U.K. provide national, regional, and global genotype prevalence estimates for the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Findings published in Hepatology, a journa ...

1 in 3000 blood donors in England infected with hepatitis E

1 hour ago

The first systematic analysis of hepatitis E virus (HEV) transmission by blood components indicates that about 1 in 3000 donors in England have HEV in their plasma. The findings, published in The Lancet, suggest that around ...

Biologic treatments for RA carry similar infection risk

1 hour ago

(HealthDay)—The risk of hospitalized bacterial infections in older rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients is similar for rituximab or abatacept compared to etanercept, although it is higher for infliximab, ...

New oral drug regimens cure hardest-to-treat hepatitis C

1 hour ago

Two new pill-only antiviral drug regimens could provide shorter, more effective treatment options with fewer side effects for the majority of patients infected with hepatitis C, even those most difficult to treat, according ...

User comments