Impact of inhaled antiinflammatory therapy on hospitalization and emergency department visits for children with asthma

Robert J. Adams, Anne Fuhlbrigge*, Jonathan A. Finkelstein, Paula Lozano, James M. Livingston, Kevin B. Weiss, Scott T. Weiss

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

169 Scopus citations


Objective. Although the efficacy of inhaled antiinflammatory therapy in improving symptoms and lung function in childhood asthma has been shown in clinical trials, the effectiveness of these medications in real-world practice settings in reducing acute health care use has not been well-evaluated. This study examined the effect of inhaled antiinflammatory therapy on hospitalizations and emergency department (ED) visits by children for asthma. Design. Defined population cohort study over 1 year. Setting. Three managed care organizations (MCOs) in Seattle, Boston, and Chicago participating in the Pediatric Asthma Care-Patient Outcome Research and Treatment II trial. Participants. All 11 195 children, between 3 to 15 years old, with a diagnosis of asthma who were enrolled in the 3 MCOs between July 1996 and June 1997. Outcome Measures. We identified children with 1 or more asthma diagnoses using automated encounter data. Medication dispensings were identified from automated pharmacy data. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to calculate effects of inhaled antiinflammatory therapy on the adjusted relative risk (RR) for hospitalization and ED visits for asthma. Results. Over 12 months, 217 (1.9%) of children had an asthma hospitalization, and 757 (6.8%) had an ED visit. After adjustment for age, gender, MCO, and reliever dispensing, compared with children who did not receive controllers, the adjusted RRs for an ED visit were: children with any (≥1) dispensing of cromolyn, 0.4 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.3, 0.5); any inhaled corticosteroid (ICS), 0.5 (95% CI: 0.4, 0.6); any cromolyn or ICS combined (any controller), 0.4 (95% CI: 0.3, 0.5). For hospitalization, the adjusted RR for cromolyn was 0.6 (95% CI: 0.4, 0.9), for ICS 0.4 (95% CI: 0.3, 0.7), and for any controller 0.4 (95% CI: 0.3, 0.6). A significant protective effect for both events was seen among children with 1 to 5 and with >5 antiinflammatory dispensings. When the analysis was stratified by frequency of reliever dispensing, there was a significant protective effect for controllers on ED visits for children with 1 to 5 and with >5 reliever dispensings and on the risk of hospitalization for children with >5 reliever dispensings. Conclusions. Inhaled antiinflammatory therapy is associated with a significant protective effect on the risk for hospitalization and ED visits in children with asthma. Cromolyn and ICSs were associated with similar effects on risks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)706-711
Number of pages6
Issue number4 I
StatePublished - 2001


  • Asthma drug therapy
  • Emergency department
  • Health maintenance organizations
  • Hospitalization
  • Inhaled antiinflammatory agents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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