Poorly controlled asthma more than doubles healthcare costs associated with the disease and threatens educational achievement through a dramatic increase in school absence, according to researchers at National Jewish Health. The research team reported in the August 2011 issue of The Archives of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology that children with “very poorly controlled” asthma missed an average of 18 days of school each year, compared to 2 or less for other asthma patients.
“This study looks for the first time at how effective and ineffective management of severe asthma impacts cost ,” said Stanley Szefler, MD, lead author and Professor of Pediatrics at National Jewish Health. “It highlights the toll that poorly controlled asthma takes on children. It also points to an opportunity – with proper attention and education, many, if not most, of those children could gain control over their asthma, thus reducing healthcare costs, improving their lives and their chances for success.”
The researchers studied 628 children ages 6 to 12 with severe or difficult-to-treat asthma. They evaluated direct medical costs – medications, unscheduled office and emergency visits, and hospital admissions – and indirect costs as measured by school/work days lost. Costs were evaluated at baseline, 12 months and 24 months. Patients were divided into three groups - very poorly controlled, not well controlled and well controlled asthma, according to NIH guidelines.