Targeting Improvements in Asthma Morbidity in Chicago: Disparity Initiatives

Chicago is a city with a high concentration of people from lower socioeconomic groups; these groups typically show higher asthma prevalence and morbidity. Over the past 10 years, there have been a number of community-based strategies that focused on reducing asthma disparities. A few of these projects are highlighted.

The Mobile C.A.R.E. Foundation operates two medical vans to provide free and comprehensive medical care, health education, and medications to children with asthma in underserved communities. Its goal is to reduce health disparities related to asthma. Beginning in 1999, vans staffed by a medical team made regularly scheduled stops at > 40 schools and Head Start Program sites in low-income areas of the city. To date, Mobile C.A.R.E. Foundation has provided > 8,000 patient visits to > 2,500 children.

The Asthma and Lead Prevention Program of the Chicago Housing Administration (CHA) project addressed simultaneously two major health concerns in public housing: asthma and lead poisoning in children who reside in four CHA developments. A series of targeted asthma training sessions was held for CHA residents by community health educators living in the housing developments. Hundreds of families were reached, linked with quality care, and educated about asthma and self-management.

Asthma in children

Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Controlling Asthma in American Cities Project is a community-based, peer-educator program aimed at decreasing environmental risk factors for asthma. The goals of the project are to increase understanding of the processes by which asthma develops in children, identify modifiable risk factors, and demonstrate the effectiveness of intervention strategies that target the needs of underserved populations. This project is focusing on the south side of Chicago, an area particularly hard-hit by rising rates of asthma prevalence and asthma morbidity.

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The Chicago Initiative to Raise Asthma Health Equity is a 5-year study funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health. A joint effort of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County, the Chicago Initiative to Raise Asthma Health Equity is a prospective study of adolescents and young adults in Chicago with asthma, assessing the impact of socioeconomic status and psychosocial stressors on the development and expression of asthma morbidity, Major aims of the study are to explicate the degree of and reasons for disparities in asthma morbidity among urban poor populations, and to develop interventions based on this understanding to reduce or eliminate these disparities.