Racial disparities in asthma exist even among children with equal access to health care

June 7, 2010

Within a comprehensive health insurance system, black and Hispanic children appear more likely than white children to have asthma and their outcomes are often worse, according to a report posted online today that will appear in the August print issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Many factors contribute to well-documented racial and ethnic disparities in children's health and , according to background information in the article. Universal health care coverage is widely considered an essential component of strategies to reduce these disparities. "Because the Military Health System provides comprehensive to a racially and ethnically diverse population of beneficiaries, studying disparities in health care treatments and outcomes among this population could add significantly to our understanding of the potential effect of universal coverage on reducing disparities in health care," the authors write.

Kate A. Stewart, Ph.D., of Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., Chicago, and colleagues analyzed data from 822,900 children age 2 through 17 who were continuously enrolled throughout 2007 in a Department of Defense health maintenance organization-type plan. Asthma prevalence, treatment patterns and outcomes were assessed among children age 2 to 4, 5 to 10 and 11 to 17.

Racial and ethnic differences were apparent in several measures and age groups. Black and Hispanic children were more likely to be diagnosed with asthma at all ages. Black children of all ages and age 5 to 10 were more likely to have potentially avoidable hospitalizations or emergency department visits related to asthma.

"Our findings with regard to treatment patterns were mixed," the authors write. "Black children, who at all ages were more likely to have a diagnosis of asthma and to have poorer outcomes than white children, were also more likely to receive recommended asthma medications, especially inhaled corticosteroids." However, this could be related to the higher rates of emergency department visits and potentially avoidable hospitalizations among these children, as medications could have been prescribed and filled during or after these visits.

Black children were also less likely to receive care from a specialist, who may be more likely to treat asthma according to guidelines, including appropriate use of controller medications. "Thus, even though black children filled more prescriptions for asthma medications, they may have been less likely than white children who visited specialists to control their and use the medications appropriately," the authors write.

"Our findings suggest that eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in health care likely requires a multifaceted approach beyond universal health insurance coverage," they conclude.

More information: Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2010;164[8], doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2010.100

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Healthy eating linked to kids' happiness

December 13, 2017
Healthy eating is associated with better self-esteem and fewer emotional and peer problems, such as having fewer friends or being picked on or bullied, in children regardless of body weight, according to a study published ...

Searching for a link between achy joints and rainy weather in a flood of data, researchers come up dry

December 13, 2017
Rainy weather has long been blamed for achy joints. Unjustly so, according to new research from Harvard Medical School. The analysis, published Dec. 13 in BMJ, found no relationship between rainfall and joint or back pain.

Mistletoe and (a large) wine: Seven-fold increase in wine glass size over 300 years

December 13, 2017
Our Georgian and Victorian ancestors probably celebrated Christmas with more modest wine consumption than we do today - if the size of their wine glasses are anything to go by. Researchers at the University of Cambridge have ...

How well can digital assistants answer questions on sex?

December 13, 2017
Google laptop searches seem to be better at finding quality online sexual health advice than digital assistants on smartphones, find experts in the Christmas issue of The BMJ.

Study links health risks to electromagnetic field exposure

December 13, 2017
A study of real-world exposure to non-ionizing radiation from magnetic fields in pregnant women found a significantly higher rate of miscarriage, providing new evidence regarding their potential health risks. The Kaiser Permanente ...

Owning a pet does not seem to influence signs of aging

December 13, 2017
Owning a pet does not appear to slow the rate of ageing, as measured by standard indicators, suggest the authors of a study published in the Christmas issue of The BMJ.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.