Asthmatic black children risk higher readmission rates

Readmission rates for black children with asthma are double than those of white children, largely because of financial and social disparities, according to a study in Pediatrics.

Researchers from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center tracked 774 children ranging from 1 to 16 years old who were admitted to the hospital between August 2010 and October 2011 for asthma or bronchodilator-responsive wheezing.

Nineteen percent of these children were readmitted within a year, according to the study. Twenty-three percent of black children were readmitted within that time period, compared to just 11 percent of all other children in the study, most of whom were white.

Black children's caregivers were significantly more likely than white children's caregivers to report financial and social hardships, which, together with traditional measures of low socioeconomic status, explained 49 percent of the readmissions disparity, according to the study. Problems such as lack of employment and not owning a car accounted for about 40 percent of the increased likelihood of asthma readmissions among black children.

"Identifying hardships could prompt partnerships with individuals and agencies poised to provide added community support for families," Andrew Beck, M.D., a pediatrician at Cincinnati Children's and lead author of the study, said in a hospital statement.

Researchers recommended solutions such as medication home delivery, job training and assigning community health workers to overcome transportation, job and access barriers, which would theoretically cost less than hospital readmission.

Although most children receive the same inpatient care despite differences in socioeconomic status, poor, urban and minority children are at the highest risk for ED treatment and hospital admission, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

To learn more:
- here's the study abstract
- read the statement