Allies Against Asthma: A Program to Combine Clinical and Public Health Approaches to Chronic Illness

An RWJF National Program

Field of Work: Improving the management of pediatric asthma

Problem Synopsis: Between 1980 and 1995, the prevalence rate of asthma among the nation's 17-and-under population more than doubled—from an estimated 3.6 percent to 7.5 percent, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of the some 15 million Americans with asthma in the late 1990s, about a third were under 18.

Synopsis of the Work: Allies Against Asthma: A Program to Combine Clinical and Public Health Approaches to Chronic Illness supported the efforts of seven community-based coalitions to improve the management of pediatric asthma in their areas. The program—including research activities to evaluate the coalitions and their impact—ran from 1999 to 2008.

Key Findings

  • National program office staff included the following findings from their evaluation of Allies Against Asthma in a report to RWJF:

    • The seven coalitions made or contributed to a total of 90 changes in pediatric asthma-related policies and systems, ranging from improved practices within single health care institutions to revisions of citywide policies and state laws.
    • Based on parent surveys, children in neighborhoods targeted by the coalitions for intervention experienced a greater reduction in recent asthma symptoms than did children in nontargeted comparison neighborhoods.
    • Compared to parents in comparison neighborhoods, parents of children with asthma in the intervention neighborhoods showed significant improvement on two quality-of-life survey questions—how often they felt helpless or frightened when their child experienced breathlessness or other asthma symptoms and how often they felt angry that their child had asthma.