Reported difficulties in access to quality care for children with asthma in the inner city

Ellen F. Crain*, Carolyn Kercsmar, Kevin B. Weiss, Herman Mitchell, Henry Lynn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

131 Scopus citations


Objective: To characterize perceived access and barriers to quality health care for asthma among the caregivers of children in the inner city. Design: Multicenter, cross-sectional survey. Setting: Eight sites in 7 major metropolitan US inner cities. Participants: A systematic sample of children with asthma, aged 4 to 9 years, and their caregivers who resided in census tracts in which at least 30% of the households were below the 1990 federal poverty guidelines, recruited from 25 primary care clinics and 13 emergency departments (EDs) from November 1, 1992, through October 31, 1993. Results: Of the 1528 children enrolled, 1376 had physician-diagnosed asthma and form the basis of this report. This group was further divided into 284 children (20.6%) who met all recruitment criteria for severe asthma and 207 (15.0%) with mild asthma who met none. Of parents in the total sample, 95.6% reported a usual place for short-term asthma care for their child; 75.4% used the ED. Children with severe asthma were significantly more likely to use the ED than those with mild asthma (84.3% vs 63.0%; P<.01). A usual place for follow-up asthma care was reported by 96.7% of subjects. There were no differences in access or type of facility used by asthma severity. More than half the study group reported difficulty in accessing care for acute asthma attacks and for follow-up care with no differences by asthma severity. Among those with severe asthma, 47.5% used inhaled steroids or cromolyn, 52.8% used a spacer device if they had been prescribed a metered dose inhaler, and 21.2% of children older than 6 years were prescribed a peak flowmeter. Patients with mild asthma were significantly less likely to report use of all 3 items (steroids or cromolyn, 1.4%; spacer device, 15.4%; and peak flowmeter, 3.1%, respectively; P<.01). Conclusion: Although access to asthma care among children in US inner cities appears adequate as determined by the traditional measure of reporting a regular source of care, barriers are frequently reported, as are deficiencies in the quality of medical care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)333-339
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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