REFERENCE: Meltzer, S.B., Wahlgren, D.R., Jones, J.A., Hovell, M.F., Hofstetter, C.R., Meltzer, E.O. Health and social characteristics of low-incomd Latino families with asthmatic children. Presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology, Orlando, FL, Feb 26-March 3, 1999.

Delivering preventive medical care to an under-served Latino population was the objective of a 13-month trial which compared the effectiveness of an asthma education program only versus combined with behavioral counseling to reduce asthmatic children's exposure to household tobacco smoke. Low-income families (n=100) were recruited in San Diego County by promoting free asthma education. Volunteers were under-insured, who had a child (3-17) with asthma and a smoker in the household. Baseline interviews collected demographic status of the families and asthma morbidity and health care utilization of their asthmatic child.

Descriptive findings at the initial visit with regard to the participating parent in each family include: 96% were the asthmatic child's mother, 66% were married, 24% completed high school, 57% had government-assisted medical coverage and 32% had no health insurance. Regarding the children's health and treatment in the prior 12 months: 23% had been hospitalized, 44% had visited the ER, and 51% had been examined at an urgent care facility for respiratory problems. Overall severity of their respiratory symptoms in the last 2 weeks was rated as severe (19%), moderate (24%), modest (17%), mild (37%), and no symptoms (3%). Half of the volunteers rated the child's general health as only "fair", and 43% reported respiratory problems sufficient to interfere with daily activities in the last 2 weeks. Additional items explored include exposure to environmental triggers such as household pets and gas stoves.

Findings show that Hispanic families with minimal education and health insurance have children with under-treated asthma and associated morbidity.


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