Beliefs and barriers to follow-up after an emergency department asthma visit: a randomized trial

Joseph J Zorc, Amber Chew, Julian L Allen, Kathy Shaw
Pediatrics 2009, 124 (4): 1135-42

BACKGROUND: Studies in urban emergency departments (EDs) have found poor quality of chronic asthma care and identified beliefs and barriers associated with low rates of follow-up with a primary care provider (PCP).

OBJECTIVES: To develop an ED-based intervention including asthma symptom screening, a video addressing beliefs and a mailed reminder; and measure the effect on PCP follow-up and asthma-related outcomes.

METHODS: This randomized, controlled trial enrolled children aged 1 to 18 years who were discharged after asthma treatment in an urban pediatric ED. Control subjects received instructions to follow-up with a PCP within 3 to 5 days. In addition, intervention subjects (1) received a letter to take to their PCP if they screened positive for persistent asthma symptoms, (2) viewed a video featuring families and providers discussing the importance of asthma control, and (3) received a mailed reminder to follow-up with a PCP. All subjects were contacted by telephone 1, 3, and 6 months after the ED visit, and follow-up was confirmed by PCP record review. Asthma-related quality of life (AQoL), symptoms, and beliefs about asthma care were assessed by using validated surveys.

RESULTS: A total of 433 subjects were randomly assigned, and baseline measures were similar between study groups. After the intervention and before ED discharge, intervention subjects were more likely to endorse beliefs about the benefits of follow-up than controls. However, rates of PCP follow-up during the month after the ED visit (44.5%) were similar to control subjects (43.8%) as were AQoL, medication use, and ED visits.

CONCLUSIONS: An ED-based intervention influenced beliefs but did not increase PCP follow-up or asthma-related outcomes.

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