Care of asthmatic children is often episodic and more therapeutic than preventive. A 2-year randomized, controlled trial involving 95 children measured the impact of a comprehensive home and ambulatory program for pediatric asthma management using objective outcome measures. Interventions for the study group during the first year included 3-month clinic visits, education, and home visits by a specially trained research nurse. Control subjects continued to receive regular care from a family physician or pediatrician. Eighty-nine subjects (93%) completed the study. Study subjects had less school absenteeism than control subjects (10.7 vs. 16.0 days, P = .04) and showed significantly better small airway function after 1 year. Asthma severity improved in 13 study subjects and worsened in 5. The reverse was true for control subjects. Study subjects exhibited better metered aerosol technique than control subjects (P = .0005). Fewer days were spent in hospital by the study subjects admitted compared with control subjects (3.67 vs 11.2 days, P = .02). After 1 year, more study than control families (72.1% vs 33.1%, P = .006) reported that their asthmatic child took responsibility for the asthma management. The intervention failed to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke or to household pets. There were no significant differences in medical visits, theophylline levels, or records of asthma symptoms. One year after discontinuing the intervention, a marked "washout" effect was observed. Comprehensive ambulatory programs of childhood asthma management can improve objective measures of illness severity but must be sustained.
- Received December 28, 1989.
- Accepted December 13, 1990.
- Copyright © 1991 by the American Academy of Pediatrics