From the Journals

Community-based therapy improved asthma outcomes in African American teens



A family- and community-based treatment program significantly improved outcomes in African American adolescents with moderate to severe persistent asthma, according to results published in Pediatrics.

In a study of 167 African American patients aged 12-16 years, the 84 randomly assigned to Multisystemic Therapy–Health Care (MST-HC) had greater improvement in forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) over time, compared with the 83 patients randomly assigned to family support (FS) therapy (beta = 0.097, t[164.27] = 2.52; P = .01). Improvements in secondary outcomes also were observed in this group, reported Sylvie Naar, PhD, of Florida State University, Tallahassee, and her coauthors.

They studied African American adolescents with moderate to severe persistent asthma who resided in a home setting with a caregiver and were at high risk for poorly controlled asthma. Families were randomized to either MST-HC (84 patients) or FS (83 patients) based on severity of urgent care use, and follow-up was completed 7 and 12 months after baseline assessment. Families were paid $50 for each assessment.

FEV1 was the primary outcome. Secondary outcomes were medication adherence, symptom severity and frequency, inpatient hospitalizations, and ED visits. Medication adherence was evaluated via the Family Asthma Management System Scale (FAMSS)‍ and the Daily Phone Diary (DPD).‍ Other outcomes were confirmed via medical records.

Patients in the FS control group received weekly home-based counseling for up to 6 months. Patients in the MST-HC treatment group were first engaged in a motivational session with a therapist and evaluated for asthma management with interviews and observations within the home and community. Once possible contributing factors to poor asthma management (such as medication underuse or low parental monitoring) were identified, targeted interventions such as skills training, behavioral and family therapy, or communication training with school and medical staff were chosen, and treatment goals continually monitored and modified, the authors said.

The mean length of treatment until termination in the MST-HC group was 5 months, and the mean number of sessions was 27. In the FS group, mean length of treatment was 4 months, and the mean number of sessions was 11.

FEV1 for the MST-HC group improved from 2.05 at baseline to 2.25 at 7 months (a 10% improvement), and to 2.37 (a 16% improvement) at 12 months, compared with an improvement from 2.21 to 2.31 at 7 months (a 4% improvement) and 2.33 (a 5% improvement) at 12 months in the control group, the authors reported.

At 12 months, FAMSS adherence scores improved from 4.19 to 5.24 in the MST-HC group and from 4.61 to 4.72 in the control group.

DPD adherence scores improved from a mean of 0.33 at baseline to 0.69 for the MST-HC group, and from 0.43 to 0.46 in the FS group.

At 12 months, the mean frequency of asthma symptoms in the MST-HC group improved from 2.75 at baseline to 1.43, compared with a decline of 2.67 to 2.58 in the control group. The mean number of hospitalizations in the MST-HC group improved from 0.87 to 0.24, compared with a change from 0.66 to 0.34 in the control group.

The study results are “especially noteworthy because African American adolescents experience greater morbidity and mortality from asthma than white adolescents even when controlling for socioeconomic variables,” Dr. Naar and her associates wrote. Future research should focus on the “transportability” of MST-HC treatment to community settings, which is “ready to be studied in effectiveness and implementation trials.”

The study was supported by a National Institutes of Health grant. Coauthor Phillippe Cunningham, PhD, is a co-owner of Evidence-Based Services, a network partner organization that is licensed to disseminate Multisystemic Therapy for drug court and juvenile delinquency settings. The other authors said they have no potential conflicts of interest.

SOURCE: Naar S et al. Pediatrics. 2018. doi: 10.1542/peds.2017-3737.

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