Dr. Stephanie M. Chalupka, Worcester State University

Chalupka Presents Research on Asthma Intervention in Urban Settings

November 12, 2013
By: Worcester State University News

Stephanie  Chalupka’s (Nursing) research Healthy Homes: In-Home Environmental Asthma Intervention in a Diverse Urban Community was  presented at the 141st annual meeting of the American Public Health Association.

The WHO estimates 235 million people suffer from asthma, the most common childhood chronic disease. Housing is a significant public health issue and improvements in housing conditions have potential for primary prevention, as children spend considerable time in the home. The presentation described an intervention research partnership between the University of Massachusetts Lowell and several key community-based organizations.  The researchers  attempted to address the difficulty in reaching diverse low-income families with asthmatic children through effective healthy homes messages/interventions. The project aimed to demonstrate how 160 interventions with diverse families improve the health of asthmatic children.

Methods: Researchers conducted interventions in homes of diverse, low-income families with at least one doctor diagnosed asthmatic child, 14 or under. The two largest populations included Hispanics (53%) and Asians (15%). Health and environmental assessments included survey questionnaires, visual observations, dust sampling and air flow measures for exhaust ventilation. Interventions included healthy homes education, green cleaning alternatives, HEPA vacuums, mattress/pillow covers, commercial cleaning of homes, integrated pest management (IPM), installation/repair of exhaust fans. Major analysis included health effects on wheeze, asthma attacks, doctor and ER visits and hospitalizations and asthma scale assessment on physical health, physical activity child, physical activity family, emotional health child, emotional health family. Two sample and paired methods were used to calculate change in these measures from pre-intervention to post-intervention.

Results: ER visits decreased by 81%; asthma attacks decreased by 76%; episodes of wheezing decreased by 66%; doctor’s office visits decreased by 65%. Asthma scales scores increased: 23% (Physical Health); 20% (Emotional Health Child); 10% (Emotional Health Family). Both parametric and nonparametric methods all found significant improvements in the pre to post intervention measures of these health and asthma indicators.

Conclusions: Findings suggest that culturally/linguistically appropriate multidimensional homes interventions of diverse low-income families will improve health outcome for asthmatic children.

This research was funded by an $897,000 grant from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Chalupka’s co-investigators in the research were David Turcotte, ScD, Susan Woskie, PhD, CIH , Rebecca Gore, PhD , Emily Vidrine, MA , Fred Youngs, PhD  (all of the University of Massachusetts Lowell), Heather Alker, MD MPH (Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, UMass Medical School ) and  Carla Caraballo  and Bophamony Vong  (Community Outreach & Health Promotion, Lowell Community Health Center).

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