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1.  Medication Adherence Among Latino and Non-Latino White Children With Asthma 
Pediatrics  2012;129(6):e1404-e1410.
OBJECTIVE:
Latino children of Caribbean descent remain at high risk for poorly controlled asthma. Controller medications improve asthma control; however, medication adherence remains suboptimal, particularly among minorities. This study assessed socioeconomic, family-based, and parent factors in medication adherence among children with asthma from Rhode Island (RI; Latino and non-Latino white [NLW]) and Puerto Rico.
METHODS:
Data collection occurred as part of a multicenter study of asthma disparities. Our sample included children (ages 7–16) prescribed objectively monitored controller medications (n = 277; 80 island Puerto Rico, 114 RI Latino, 83 RI NLW). Parents completed questionnaires regarding family background and beliefs about medications. Families participated in an interview regarding asthma management. Multilevel analyses (maximum likelihood estimates) accounting for children being nested within site and ethnic group assessed the contribution of social context, family, and parent variables to medication adherence.
RESULTS:
Medication adherence differed by ethnic group (F2, 271 = 7.46, P < .01), with NLW families demonstrating the highest levels of adherence. Multilevel models indicated that parental beliefs about medication necessity and family organization regarding medication use were significant predictors of adherence, even for families below the poverty threshold. With family factors in the model, a substantial improvement in model fit occurred (Akaike Information Criterion change of 103.45).
CONCLUSIONS:
Adherence to controller medications was lower among Latino children in our sample. Targeted interventions that capitalize on existing family resources, emphasize structure, and address parental beliefs about the importance of medications may be of benefit to families from different cultural backgrounds.
doi:10.1542/peds.2011-1391
PMCID: PMC3362901  PMID: 22566417
asthma; patient nonadherence; disparities
2.  Perceptual accuracy of upper airway compromise in children: Clinical relevance and future directions for research 
Allergy & Rhinology  2013;4(2):e54-e62.
Approximately 80% of children with asthma have coexisting allergic rhinitis. The accurate recognition and assessment of asthma and rhinitis symptoms is an integral component of guideline-based treatment for both conditions. This article describes the development and preliminary evaluation of a novel paradigm for testing the accuracy of children's assessment of their upper airway (rhinitis) symptoms. This work is guided by our previous research showing the clinical efficacy of tools to evaluate children's perceptual accuracy of asthma symptoms and linking accurate asthma symptom perception to decreased asthma morbidity (Fritz G, et al., Ethnic differences in perception of lung function: A factor in pediatric asthma disparities? Am J Respir Crit Care Med 182:12–18, 2010; Klein RB, et al., The Asthma Risk Grid: Clinical interpretation of symptom perception, Allergy Asthma Proc 251–256, 2004). The pilot study tests a paradigm that allows for the examination of the correspondence of children's assessment of their upper airway functioning with actual values of upper airway flow through the use of a portable, handheld nasal peak flowmeter. Nine children with persistent asthma were evaluated over a 4-week period. The article describes the rhinitis perceptual accuracy paradigm and reviews the results of a pilot study, showing a large proportion of inaccurate rhinitis symptoms “guesses” by the sample of children with persistent asthma. Patterns of inaccuracy, rhinitis control, and asthma morbidity are also described. Directions for future work are reviewed. The development of clinical tools to evaluate children's accuracy of rhinitis symptoms are needed, given the central role of the self-assessment of symptoms in guideline-based care. Accurate perception of the severity of rhinitis symptoms may enhance rhinitis control, lessen the burden of asthma, and prevent unnecessary emergency use among this high-risk group of children.
doi:10.2500/ar.2013.4.0060
PMCID: PMC3793113  PMID: 24124637
Allergy; asthma; children; perceptual accuracy; rhinitis; treatment; upper airway
3.  Identifying Individual, Cultural and Asthma-Related Risk and Protective Factors Associated With Resilient Asthma Outcomes in Urban Children and Families 
Journal of Pediatric Psychology  2012;37(4):424-437.
Objective The goal of this study is to identify individual, family/cultural, and illness-related protective factors that may minimize asthma morbidity in the context of multiple urban risks in a sample of inner-city children and families. Methods Participating families are from African-American (33), Latino (51) and non-Latino white (47) backgrounds. A total of 131 children with asthma (56% male), ages 6–13 years and their primary caregivers were included. Results Analyses supported the relationship between cumulative risks and asthma morbidity across children of the sample. Protective processes functioned differently by ethnic group. For example, Latino families exhibited higher levels of family connectedness, and this was associated with lower levels of functional limitation due to asthma, in the context of risks. Conclusions This study demonstrates the utility of examining multilevel protective processes that may guard against urban risks factors to decrease morbidity. Intervention programs for families from specific ethnic groups can be tailored to consider individual, family-based/cultural and illness-related supports that decrease stress and enhance aspects of asthma treatment.
doi:10.1093/jpepsy/jss002
PMCID: PMC3415979  PMID: 22408053
asthma outcomes; cultural factors; inner city; pediatric asthma; protective factors
4.  Sleep and allergic disease: A summary of the literature and future directions for research 
Atopic diseases, such as asthma and allergic rhinitis, are common conditions that can influence sleep and subsequent daytime functioning. Children and patients with allergic conditions from ethnic minority groups might be particularly vulnerable to poor sleep and compromised daytime functioning because of the prevalence of these illnesses in these groups and the high level of morbidity. Research over the past 10 years has shed light on the pathophysiologic mechanisms (eg, inflammatory mediators) involved in many atopic diseases that can underlie sleep disruptions as a consequence of the presence of nocturnal symptoms. Associations between nocturnal symptoms and sleep and poorer quality of life as a result of missed sleep have been demonstrated across studies. Patients with severe illness and poor control appear to bear the most burden in terms of sleep impairment. Sleep-disordered breathing is also more common in patients with allergic diseases. Upper and lower airway resistance can increase the risk for sleep-disordered breathing events. In patients with allergic rhinitis, nasal congestion is a risk factor for apnea and snoring. Finally, consistent and appropriate use of medications can minimize nocturnal asthma or allergic symptoms that might disrupt sleep. Despite these advances, there is much room for improvement in this area. A summary of the sleep and allergic disease literature is reviewed, with methodological, conceptual, and clinical suggestions presented for future research.
doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2012.06.026
PMCID: PMC3576835  PMID: 22867694
Sleep; allergic disease; asthma; allergic rhinitis; atopic dermatitis
5.  Conundrums in childhood asthma severity, control, and health care use: Puerto Rico versus Rhode Island 
Background
The lifetime prevalence of self-reported asthma among Puerto Ricans is very high, with increased asthma hospitalizations, emergency department visits, and mortality rates. Differences in asthma severity between the mainland and island, however, remain largely unknown.
Objective
We sought to characterize differences in asthma severity and control among 4 groups: (1) Island Puerto Ricans, (2) Rhode Island (RI) Puerto Ricans, (3) RI Dominicans, and (4) RI whites.
Methods
Eight hundred five children aged 7 to 15 years completed a diagnostic clinic session, including a formal interview, physical examination, spirometry, and allergy testing. Using a visual grid adapted from the Global Initiative for Asthma, asthma specialists practicing in each site determined an asthma severity rating. A corresponding level of asthma control was determined by using a computer algorithm.
Results
Island Puerto Ricans had significantly milder asthma severity compared with RI Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, and whites (P < .001). Island Puerto Ricans were not significantly different from RI whites in asthma control. RI Puerto Ricans showed a trend toward less control compared with island Puerto Ricans (P = .061). RI Dominicans had the lowest rate of controlled asthma. Paradoxically, island Puerto Ricans had more emergency department visits in the past 12 months (P < .001) compared with the 3 RI groups.
Conclusions
Potential explanations for the paradoxic finding of milder asthma in island Puerto Ricans in the face of high health care use are discussed. Difficulties in determining guideline-based composite ratings for severity versus control are explored in the context of disparate groups.
doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2009.05.014
PMCID: PMC3380616  PMID: 19615729
Asthma; severity; control; clinical guidelines; Global Initiative for Asthma; Latino; Puerto Rican; Dominican; Rhode Island; health care use
6.  Asthma symptom perception and obesity in children☆ 
Biological Psychology  2009;84(1):135-141.
This study examined the relationship between obesity and asthma symptom perception in 200 youth with asthma. Repeated subjective and objective peak flow measurements were summarized using the Asthma Risk Grid (Klein et al., 2004), resulting in Accurate, Symptom Magnification and Danger Zone scores. Analyses were stratified by age and included ethnicity.
For younger children, obesity was not significantly related to perception scores. For older children, a significant obesity-by-ethnicity interaction for Accurate Symptom Perception scores indicated that obese white children had lower accuracy than white nonobese children, while there was no difference for obese versus nonobese minority children. Obesity was also related to higher Symptom Magnification scores regardless of ethnicity for older children.
These findings suggest that obesity may complicate asthma management by interfering with the ability to accurately perceive symptoms for some patients. More remains to be learned about the role of sociodemographic factors underlying this relationship.
doi:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2009.11.007
PMCID: PMC3278964  PMID: 19941934
Asthma; Body mass index; Obesity; Symptom perception; Children
7.  Access to and Use of Asthma Health Services Among Latino Children: The Rhode Island-Puerto Rico Asthma Center Study 
Medical Care Research and Review  2011;68(6):683-698.
This study determines asthma-related health care access and utilization patterns for Latino children of Puerto Rican and Dominican origin residing in Rhode Island (RI) and Latino children residing in Puerto Rico (Island). Data included 804 families of children with persistent asthma recruited from clinics. Island children were less likely to receive regular asthma care and care from a consistent provider and more likely to have been to the emergency department and hospitalized for asthma than RI children. Island children were 2.33 times more likely to have used the emergency department for asthma compared with RI non-Latino White (NLW) children. Latino children residing in both Island and RI were less likely to have used specialty care and more likely to have had a physician visit for asthma in the past year than RI NLW children. The differences might reflect the effects of the different delivery systems on pediatric health care utilization and asthma management.
doi:10.1177/1077558711404434
PMCID: PMC3266228  PMID: 21536604
asthma; Hispanic Americans; Latino; children; health service accessibility; health care utilization; Puerto Rico
8.  Beliefs and Barriers to Medication Use in Parents of Latino Children With Asthma 
Pediatric Pulmonology  2009;44(9):892-898.
Summary
Objective
Disparities in asthma outcomes exist between Latino and non-Latino white (NLW) children. We examined rates of medication use, medication beliefs, and perceived barriers to obtaining medication in US and island Puerto Rican parents of children with asthma
Hypotheses
Island PR parents would report the lowest rates of controller medication use, followed by RI Latino and RI NLW parents; Latino parents would report more medication concerns than NLW parents; and Island PR parents would report the most barriers to medication use.
Study Design
Five hundred thirty families of children with persistent asthma participated, including 231 Island PR, 111 RI NLW, and 188 RI Latino. Parents completed survey measures.
Results
Group differences were found on reported use of ICS (X2 = 50.96, P <0.001), any controller medication (X2 = 56.49, P <0.001), and oral steroids (X2 = 10.87, P <0.01). Island PR parents reported a greater frequency of barriers to medication use than the other two groups (X2 = 61.13, P <0.001). Latino parents in both sites expressed more medication concerns than NLW parents (F = 20.18, P <0.001). Medication necessity was associated with ICS use in all three groups (all P’s <0.01). Medication concerns were positively associated with ICS use in PR only (OR = 1.64, P <0.05).
Conclusions
Differences in medication beliefs and the ability to obtain medications may explain the reported disparity in controller medication use. Further studies are needed to evaluate these obstacles to medication use.
doi:10.1002/ppul.21074
PMCID: PMC3266229  PMID: 19672958
disparities; adherence; asthma; ethnicity; childhood; medication use
9.  Issues and Methods in Disparities Research 
Pediatric Pulmonology  2009;44(9):899-908.
Summary
Background
Epidemiologic studies have documented higher rates of asthma prevalence and morbidity in minority children compared to non-Latino white (NLW) children. Few studies focus on the mechanisms involved in explaining this disparity, and fewer still on the methodological challenges involved in rigorous disparities research.
Objectives and Methods
This article provides an overview of challenges and potential solutions to research design for studies of health disparities. The methodological issues described in this article were framed on an empirical model of asthma health disparities that views disparities as resulting from several factors related to the healthcare system and the individual/community system. The methods used in the Rhode Island–Puerto Rico Asthma Center are provided as examples, illustrating the challenges in executing disparities research.
Results
Several methods are described: distinguishing ethnic/racial differences from methodological artifacts, identifying and adapting culturally sensitive measures to explain disparities, and addressing the challenges involved in determining asthma and its severity in Latino and other minority children. The measures employed are framed within each of the components of the conceptual model presented.
Conclusions
Understanding ethnic and/or cultural disparities in asthma morbidity is a complicated process. Methodologic approaches to studying the problem must reflect this complexity, allowing us to move from documenting disparities to understanding them, and ultimately to reducing them.
doi:10.1002/ppul.21075
PMCID: PMC3266230  PMID: 19658111
asthma; health disparities; Latino; Puerto Rican; children; research methods
10.  Ethnic Differences in Perception of Lung Function 
Rationale: Disparities in pediatric asthma exist in that Latino children have higher prevalence and greater morbidity from asthma than non–Latino white children. The factors behind these disparities are poorly understood, but ethnic-related variations in children's ability to accurately recognize and report their pulmonary functioning may be a contributing process.
Objectives: To determine (1) if differences exist between Latino and non–Latino white children's perceptual accuracy and (2) whether these differences are related to asthma outcomes.
Methods: Five hundred and twelve children, aged 7–16 years (290 island Puerto Ricans, 115 Rhode Island Latinos, and 107 Rhode Island non-Latino white children) participated in a 5-week home-based protocol in which twice daily they entered subjective estimates of their peak expiratory flow rate into a hand-held, programmable spirometer and then performed spirometry. Their accuracy was summarized as three perceptual accuracy scores. Demographic data, asthma severity, intelligence, emotional expression, and general symptom-reporting tendencies were assessed and covaried in analyses of the relationship of perceptual accuracy to asthma morbidity and health care use.
Measurements and Main Results: Younger age, female sex, lower intelligence, and poverty were associated with lower pulmonary function perception scores. Island Puerto Rican children had the lowest accuracy and highest magnification scores, followed by Rhode Island Latinos; both differed significantly from non–Latino white children. Perceptual accuracy scores were associated with most indices of asthma morbidity.
Conclusions: Controlling for other predictive variables, ethnicity was related to pulmonary function perception ability, as Latino children were less accurate than non–Latino white children. This difference in perceptual ability may contribute to recognized asthma disparities.
doi:10.1164/rccm.200906-0836OC
PMCID: PMC2902755  PMID: 20299534
childhood asthma; symptom recognition; disparities
11.  Symptom Perception and Functional Morbidity Across a 1-Year Follow-up in Pediatric Asthma 
Pediatric pulmonology  2007;42(4):339-347.
Summary
The purpose of this study was to examine the association between asthma symptom perception measured during a 5–6 week baseline and functional morbidity measured prospectively across a 1-year follow-up. Symptom perception was measured by comparing subjective ratings with peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR) and forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1). We hypothesized that accurate symptom perception (ASP) would be associated with less functional morbidity. Participants consisted of 198 children with asthma ages 7–17 recruited from three sites. The children used a programmable electronic spirometer in the home setting to guess their PEFR prior to exhalation. Each “subjective” guess was classified as being in an ASP, dangerous symptom perception (DSP; underestimation of symptoms), or symptom magnification (SM; overestimation) zone based upon the corresponding measurement of PEFR or FEV1. An index of functional morbidity was collected by parent report at baseline and across 1-year follow-up. A greater proportion of ASP blows and a lower proportion of DSP blows based on PEFR predicted less functional morbidity reported at baseline, independent of asthma severity and race/ethnicity. A greater proportion of ASP blows (using PEFR and FEV1) and a lower proportion of SM blows (using FEV1) predicted less functional morbidity across 1-year follow-up. Symptom perception was not associated with emergency department visits for asthma at baseline or across follow-up. In comparison to PEFR, FEV1 more frequently detected a decline in pulmonary function that children did not report. Symptom perception measured in naturalistic settings was associated with functional morbidity at baseline and prospectively across 1-year follow-up. Support was found for including multiple measures of pulmonary function in the assessment of asthma symptom perception.
doi:10.1002/ppul.20584
PMCID: PMC2966282  PMID: 17358038
asthma; forced expiratory volume; morbidity; peak expiratory flow rate; perception
12.  Pediatric Asthma and Problems in Attention, Concentration, and Impulsivity 
Rationale
This study assesses the relationships between ADHD symptoms, specific family asthma management domains, and pediatric asthma morbidity.
Methods
Participants were 110 children with asthma and a respective parent (ages 7-17, X = 11.6 years, 25% ethnic/racial minority). Parents completed measures of asthma morbidity and report of child ADHD symptoms. Children completed measures of attention, concentration, and impulsivity. Families participated in the Family Asthma Management System Scale (FAMSS) interview to assess the effectiveness of eight features of asthma management.
Results
Parent report of ADHD symptoms and poor child performance on a computerized task of sustained visual attention were associated with asthma morbidity. Paper and pencil tasks of visual attention, and an index of auditory attention, were not related to asthma morbidity. Modest associations were found between parent report of ADHD symptoms, child performance-based indicators of attention and concentration, and features of family asthma management, although not across all measures. The family response to asthma partially mediated the relationship between ADHD symptoms and morbidity.
Conclusions
ADHD symptoms are modestly associated with difficulties in family asthma management.
doi:10.1037/1091-7527.26.1.16
PMCID: PMC2636964  PMID: 19198669

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