Community members and primary care providers in the region have been involved in new research to provide a community perspective on social and environmental stressors that have an impact on children with asthma. Together with Michael Yonas, DrPH, assistant professor of Family Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, participants worked together to create lists of stressors that they believe influence the care and control of childhood asthma. This diverse group included community participants from Braddock, North Braddock and Clairton communities, UPMC/University of Pittsburgh primary care providers and school nurses and nurse practitioners from the Pittsburgh Public and Woodland Hills school districts.

Each expert group has helped to provide understanding about how stress affects children with asthma. For example, the school nurses’ group, facilitated by Juanita Hogan, RN, CNP, from Pittsburgh Public Schools, created a list of 116 factors that they organized into clusters.

These clusters included environmental factors (such as pollution, tobacco smoke and dust mites); community environment/stressors (transportation, poor housing quality, community and family violence); school issues/influences (school conditions); lack of asthma understanding (parents’ lack knowledge or expired medications) and access to asthma care (specialty care).

The results from this research provide us with deeper understanding of social and environmental things that are stressful and that affect children with asthma. Interventions that reduce these stressors are being developed and tested with the input of many people with different expertise. Through these efforts, we hope to improve childhood asthma and eliminate dis­parities.

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