Clinical quality officer says almost half of children suffering from asthma had not received flu shot previous year. An elaborate study published by UC Davis pediatricians Ulfat Shaikh and Robert Byrd in the journal Population Health Management addresses the challenges faced by Californian children who have asthma. The study outlines various issues that compromise asthma care and proposes numerous public policy strategies that could resolve such shortcomings.

Pediatric Asthma

Asthma is among the most commonly occurring chronic pediatric illnesses in the US. Almost 10 percent of all the children in California suffer from asthma – roughly 500,000. Lower rates of vaccination, unavailability of medication, inaccessible primary health care facilities and lack of proper community-based support have led to the increased incidence and prevalence of asthma in California. The most concerning aspect is the low rate of flu vaccination, which does not vary much from the normal pediatric population. Episodes of flu are a significant risk factor for sending a child who has asthma to the hospital emergency.

Ulfat Shaikh, Clinical Quality Officer at the California Department of Health Care Services and Director of Healthcare Quality at the UC Davis School of Medicinee, suggested that establishing viable support structures for asthmatic children could profoundly improve their health and quality of life.

Main Findings Of Study

For investigating the causes of poor asthma health care, data was collected from the most recent California Health Interview Survey of 2011-2012. This included 44,000 households from each country in California.

“We were surprised to find that almost half of all the children suffering from asthma had not received a flu shot the previous year,” reported Shaikh. “Children with asthma pose a high risk of becoming extremely ill if diagnosed with flu, even if their asthma is mild and their symptoms are under-control, such as developing pneumonia.”

The results also highlighted the current lapses in asthma health care services. One-third of the children suffering from asthma required immediate emergency care for managing their symptoms, out of which 20 percent had to seek emergency treatment because they couldn’t access their own health care provider. Moreover, only 30 percent of asthma patients received a written care-plan from their physicians.

Using Results To Our Advantage: Pediatric Asthma

Even though these shortcomings in primary health care settings seem extremely disheartening, researchers hope for a better management system by providing appropriate recommendations.

“These findings are significant because they will guide our efforts towards improving both, clinical quality and population health for children suffering with asthma”, remarked Neal Kohatsu, Medical Director at the California Department of Health Care Services, which partly funded the research project.

Researchers believe that establishing a viable framework of existing health care providers and resources could help battle pediatric asthma. An interdisciplinary approach – population-health management – is the key to resolving the issues. Pharmacists, nurses, social and community health care workers, and the emergency department should all work collaboratively to promote vaccination, improve follow-up practices and educate families about better self-care and practices of primary prevention.