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1.  Hand hygiene instruction decreases illness-related absenteeism in elementary schools: a prospective cohort study 
BMC Pediatrics  2012;12:52.
Background
Illness-related absences have been shown to lead to negative educational and economic outcomes. Both hand washing and hand sanitizer interventions have been shown to be effective in reducing illness-related absences. However, while the importance of hand hygiene in schools is clear, the role of instruction in use is less obvious. The purpose of this study was to compare absenteeism rates among elementary students given access to hand hygiene facilities versus students given both access and short repetitive instruction in use, particularly during influenza season when illness-related absences are at a peak.
Methods
A hand hygiene intervention was implemented from October to May during the 2009/2010 academic year, including peak flu season, in two Chicago Public Elementary Schools among students grades pre-kindergarten to eighth grade (ages 4–14). Classrooms were systematically assigned to an intervention or control group by grade (cluster design). Hand hygiene facilities (sanitizer and soap) were made available to all students. Students in the intervention group also received short repetitive instruction in hand hygiene every 2 months. Only absences as a result of respiratory or gastrointestinal illness were used to establish illness-related absenteeism rates. Percent absent days were calculated and bivariate analyses were performed to compare percent absent days among students given access to hand hygiene facilities versus students given both access and instruction. Prior to the intervention, teachers’ perceptions of students’ hand hygiene were also evaluated. Teacher perceptions were analysed to describe attitudes and beliefs.
Results
Data were collected and analysed for 773 students reporting 1,886 absences during the study period (1.73% of total school days). Both the percent total absent days and percent illness-related absent days were significantly lower in the group receiving short instruction during flu season (P = 0.002, P < 0.001, respectively). This difference peaked during the influenza season (when intervention began) and declined in the following months. Teachers (n = 23) agreed that hand hygiene is not performed properly among students and reported time constraints as a barrier to frequent hand washing.
Conclusions
Adding hand hygiene instruction to existing hand hygiene practices improved attendance at public elementary schools during the flu season. Standardized and brief repetitive instruction in hand hygiene holds potential to significantly reduce absenteeism.
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-12-52
PMCID: PMC3470997  PMID: 22587432
Hand hygiene; Education; Elementary school; Illness
2.  The state of pediatric asthma in Chicago's Humboldt Park: a community-based study in two local elementary schools 
BMC Pediatrics  2010;10:45.
Background
Pediatric asthma is a serious public health problem in Chicago and has been designated a high priority concern by residents of Chicago's Humboldt Park, a diverse community area with a large number of Puerto Rican, African American, and Mexican American families.
Methods
In May 2009, following the principles of community-based participatory research, a cross-sectional asthma screening survey was administered to adult caregivers of children attending two Humboldt Park elementary schools. Data were analyzed to determine the prevalence of diagnosed and probable asthma as well as the degree of asthma control among affected children; associations between asthma outcomes and mutable triggers were evaluated.
Results
Surveys from 494 children were evaluated. Physician-diagnosed asthma was reported for 24.9% of children and probable asthma identified in an additional 16.2% of children. Asthma was poorly or moderately controlled in 60.0% of diagnosed children. Smoking occurred inside 25.0% of households and 75.0% of caregivers reported idling of vehicles in their community. Report of general stress among caregivers, stress due to community crime, and/or an inability to cope with everyday life were significantly and positively associated with poor asthma morbidity and control among affected children.
Conclusions
Despite high prevalence rates and poor asthma morbidity and control in Humboldt Park, the association of these measures with mutable variables is promising. A community-based asthma intervention to address the issues identified in this study is needed to affect positive change.
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-10-45
PMCID: PMC2912879  PMID: 20576150
3.  Food allergy knowledge, attitudes and beliefs: Focus groups of parents, physicians and the general public 
BMC Pediatrics  2008;8:36.
Background
Food allergy prevalence is increasing in US children. Presently, the primary means of preventing potentially fatal reactions are avoidance of allergens, prompt recognition of food allergy reactions, and knowledge about food allergy reaction treatments. Focus groups were held as a preliminary step in the development of validated survey instruments to assess food allergy knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs of parents, physicians, and the general public.
Methods
Eight focus groups were conducted between January and July of 2006 in the Chicago area with parents of children with food allergy (3 groups), physicians (3 groups), and the general public (2 groups). A constant comparative method was used to identify the emerging themes which were then grouped into key domains of food allergy knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs.
Results
Parents of children with food allergy had solid fundamental knowledge but had concerns about primary care physicians' knowledge of food allergy, diagnostic approaches, and treatment practices. The considerable impact of children's food allergies on familial quality of life was articulated. Physicians had good basic knowledge of food allergy but differed in their approach to diagnosis and advice about starting solids and breastfeeding. The general public had wide variation in knowledge about food allergy with many misconceptions of key concepts related to prevalence, definition, and triggers of food allergy.
Conclusion
Appreciable food allergy knowledge gaps exist, especially among physicians and the general public. The quality of life for children with food allergy and their families is significantly affected.
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-8-36
PMCID: PMC2564918  PMID: 18803842

Results 1-3 (3)