Asthma is the most common chronic health condition affecting children in the United States: In 2007, 9.1 percent of children (6.7 million) had a current asthma diagnosis. Children from low-income families are disproportionately burdened, as they are more likely to have asthma, are less likely to be able to control the symptoms, and are more likely to visit the emergency department and be admitted to the hospital because of an uncontrolled episode. Despite large funding initiatives and numerous, multi-faceted interventions, the situation for children with asthma from low-income families has not improved over the past two decades.
In response, MDRC performed a review of the existing evidence on the effectiveness of childhood asthma interventions with support from the JPB Foundation. The Childhood Asthma Scan (CAS) includes a meta-analysis, which draws from about 30 independent studies and earlier published reviews and systematically compares findings across a range of outcomes and a spectrum of different approaches to addressing childhood asthma. By highlighting intervention models that have proven to be successful at improving health outcomes for low-income children and families, the CAS also seeks to inform the direction of future efforts. In addition, the paper includes case studies of various local programs and state-level policy initiatives, which were conducted in partnership with the National Academy of State Health Policy, to illuminate current efforts to address childhood asthma in low-income communities. These case studies highlight both local innovations and barriers faced in sustaining asthma programs.