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Chicago Community-Based Asthma Intervention Trial*: Feasibility of Delivering Peer Education in an Inner-City Population

Victoria Persky, MD; Lenore Coover, MSN; Eva Hernandez, MSN; Alicia Contreras, MA; Julie Slezak, MS; Julie Piorkowski, MPH; Luke Curtis, MS; Mary Turyk, MPH; Viswanathan Ramakrishnan, PhD; Peter Scheff, PhD
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*From the Epidemiology and Biostatistics and the Environmental and Occupational Health Science Divisions of the School of Public Health (Dr. Persky, Ms. Coover, Hernandez, Contreras, Slezak, Piorkowski, Mr. Curtis, Ms. Turyk, Drs. Ramakrishnan, and Scheff), University of Illinois at Chicago, and Erie Family Health Center (Dr. Persky, Ms. Hernandez, and Contreras), Chicago, IL.

Correspondence to: Victoria Persky, MD, Epidemiology/Biostatistics and Environmental and Occupational Health Science Division, School of Public Health, University of Chicago, 2121 Taylor St, Room 508, Chicago, IL 60612



Chest. 1999;116(suppl_2):216S-223S. doi:10.1378/chest.116.suppl_2.216S
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The most effective means of educating children with asthma and their families has not been clearly demonstrated in previous studies. Peer education is uniquely suited to the complex problems encountered in underserved populations. The purpose of this study was to show the feasibility of delivering a peer education program for children with asthma and the effect of the program on indoor allergen levels in an inner-city population in Chicago. Overall, the program was well received. Baseline allergen levels were consistent with some previous studies in showing low levels of mite allergens and high levels of cockroach allergens, with 79.6% of samples having levels > 8 U/g. A total of 28.2% of samples had cat allergen levels > 2 μg/g, although only 9.7% of homes had cats, confirming previous reports that cat allergen is ubiquitous. Mold levels were seasonal, with the highest levels in the summer. Results from this study suggest that intervention programs should focus more on elimination of cockroaches than was previously appreciated, while minimizing the use of pesticides, and on identification of the sources of cat allergen. Structural and psychosocial issues in homes need to be addressed in future studies. This study has demonstrated the feasibility of delivering peer education in a inner-city population and highlighted the need for comprehensive intervention strategies addressing complex issues facing underserved neighborhoods.

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