Parents of children who visit the pediatric emergency department (PED) for asthma exacerbations may have inadequate knowledge of preventive asthma care. The primary objective of this study was to assess knowledge and use of preventive asthma care measures among parents of children with asthma who present to the PED with asthma exacerbations. The secondary objective was to identify variables that predict adherence to four key preventive care measures.
The authors administered a 38-item questionnaire to 229 parents of children ages 2 to 18 years with asthma exacerbations who presented to two urban PEDs, one in the southeast and one in the northwest United States. Descriptive statistics were calculated to assess parental knowledge of preventive care. Multivariable logistic regression was used to identify variables associated with the use of four key preventive care measures.
Thirty-two percent of the children had an action plan, and 52% received the influenza vaccine within the preceding year. Sixty-six percent of the children had persistent asthma by National Institutes of Health (NIH) criteria. Of these, 51% received daily inhaled corticosteroids (ICSs). When parents were asked how an ICS medicine worked, 29% (64/221) responded "immediately opens the airway," and 24% (53/221) responded "I do not know." Daily use of ICS in these children was significantly associated with parent education level beyond high school (odds ratio [OR] = 2.81; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.26, 6.24; p = .011). Non-African Americans were more likely to have received an action plan than African Americans (OR = 2.18; 95% CI: 1.17, 4.06; p = .014). A secondary analysis of the parent's perception of his/her ability to provide care during an asthma exacerbation was significantly associated with receipt of an action plan in a multivariable proportional odds model (OR = 3.63; 95% CI: 1.99, 6.62; p <.001).
Parents of children with persistent asthma presenting to urban tertiary care PEDs with asthma exacerbations frequently have inadequate understanding of appropriate ICS use. Parents with less than a high school education, in particular, may benefit from focused educational interventions that address the importance of daily ICS use in asthma control. Parents who receive a written action plan are more confident in their ability to provide care for their child during an asthma exacerbation.