The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

4262.0: Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - Board 9

Abstract #60074

Understanding the prevalence of asthma in a community: Impacts of study design and definition

Stanley H. Weiss, MD1, Azadeh Tasslimi, BA2, Neil Lee, BS2, Shahnaz Alimokhtari, MS3, Loretta Morales, MPH4, David L. Hom, MS4, and Clifford P. Weisel, PhD3. (1) Epidemiology, UMDNJ - New Jersey Medical School & NJ School of Public Health, 30 Bergen St, Bldg 16, Suite ADMC 1614, Newark, NJ 07107-3000, (2) Dept. Preventive Medicine & Community Health / Epidemiology, UMDNJ - New Jersey Medical School, 30 Bergen St, Bldg 16, Suite ADMC 1614, Newark, NJ 07107-3000, 973 972-7721, tassliaz@UMDNJ.EDU, (3) Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, UMDNJ - EOHSI /Robert Wood Johnson Medical School & NJ School of Public Health, 170 Frelinghuysen Road, EOSHI 3-314, Piscataway, NJ 08855, (4) New Jersey Medical School/UMDNJ Clinical Research Group, University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey, 30 Bergen Street, Newark, NJ 07107-3000

We investigated the prevalence of a variety of symptoms associated with asthma in children in grades K-12 in rural northwestern NJ, where resident surveys indicated unusually high rates of asthma & respiratory problems. The community and school systems were involved in study design and execution. State law required signed parental consent for our survey, and mandates notification to school nurses for in-school use of prescription medication. Our survey included the standardized questions from the ISAAC-phase I questionnaire which inquires about asthma and frequency of asthma-related symptoms, plus questions concerning whether asthma had been physician-diagnosed, environmental tobacco exposure (and in Grades 9-12[HS] self-use), and demographic data. We varied our methods of distribution/collection. The overall response rate in K-8 was 74% (874/1182; school-specific rates were 63%, 72%, 84%, 90%) and in the regional HS 47% (266/567). The rates per homeroom varied from 0%-100%, reflecting logistical issues and teacher-specific incentives. 19% had current asthma symptoms but denied having physician-diagnosed asthma; review with school nurses revealed that many of these (and some other) students carried diagnoses of exercise-induced asthma or reactive airway disease, which some parents/students clearly differentiate from asthma, even if they receive regular prescription medication(s) or carry inhalers in school. 9% reported no current symptoms despite having physician-diagnosed asthma, suggesting their asthma was quiescent, perhaps medication-controlled. Wheezing attacks were most frequent in Gr5-8. Our findings will be compared with published ISAAC data. No single methodology identified all asthmatics. Definition strongly affected apparent prevalence. The implications of definitions and methodology within schools will be presented. These issues are important in assessing possible causal influences both of asthma and its exacerbation.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Asthma, Epidemiology

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Potpourri: Poster Session

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA