REFERENCE: Hovell, M. F., Meltzer, S. B., Zakarian, J. M., Wahlgren, D. R., Emerson, J. A., Hofstetter, C. R., Leaderer, B. P., Meltzer, E. O., Zeiger, R. S., O'Connor, R. D., Mulvihill, M. M., Atkins, C. J. (1994). Reduction of environmental tobacco smoke exposure among asthmatic children: A controlled trial. Chest, 106:440-446.

Study objective. This randomized clinical trial tested a behavioral medicine program designed to reduce asthmatic children's exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) in the home.

Design. Families were randomly assigned to an experimental preventive medicine counseling group, a monitoring control group, or a usual treatment control group. Families were measured six times over one year.

Participants. Ninety-one families were recruited from four allergy clinics.

Intervention. The experimental group received a 6-month series of counseling sessions designed to decrease ETS exposure. This group also monitored smoking, exposure, and children's asthma symptoms. The monitoring group did not receive counseling and the usual treatment control group received outcome measures only.

Measurements and results. Parents reported the daily number of cigarettes children were exposed to during the week preceding interviews. A nicotine air monitor and construct validity analysis confirmed the validity of exposure reports. Exposure to the parents' cigarettes in the home decreased for all groups. The experimental group attained a 79 percent decrease in children's ETS exposure, compared with 42 percent for the monitoring control and 34 percent for the usual treatment control group. Repeated-measures analysis of variance resulted in a significant (F[10,350]=1.92, p<0.05) group by time effect. After 12 months, only the experimental/counseling group sustained a decrease in children's exposure to cigarettes in the home from all smokers (44 percent), while the monitoring control increased 14 percent and the usual treatment group increased exposure 22 percent from preintervention.

Conclusion. A behavioral medicine program was successful in reducing exposure to ETS in the home for these asthmatic children.


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