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A Pilot Study Describing Local Residents’ Perceptions of Asthma and Knowledge of Asthma Care in Selected Chicago Communities*

Terrence Conway, MD; Tzyy-Chyn Hu, RN, MSPH; Susan Bennett, RN, MSN; Maria Niedos, MPH
Author and Funding Information

*From The Chicago/Cook County Ambulatory Care Council Asthma Taskforce (Dr. Conway, and Mss. Hu, Bennett, and Niedos), Chicago, IL; and the Ambulatory and Community Health Network, Cook County Bureau of Health Services (Dr. Conway), Chicago, IL.

Correspondence to: Terrence Conway, MD, Ambulatory and Community Health Network, Cook County Bureau of Health Services, 1835 W Harrison St, Chicago, IL 60612; e-mail: tconway@uic.edu



Chest. 1999;116(suppl_2):229S-234S. doi:10.1378/chest.116.suppl_2.229S
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Study objectives: To understand inner-city Chicago residents’ perception of the prevalence and severity of asthma as well as their knowledge of asthma control and management.

Design: Cross-sectional survey using a random digital telephone dialing method.

Settings: Five inner-city Chicago communities where a high prevalence and mortality of asthma have been recognized.

Participants: All the residents in the selected communities with a residential telephone had an equal opportunity to be surveyed.

Measurements and results: The unit of measurement was the household. Only one adult member (age 18 or older) in any randomly selected household was interviewed. The survey included questions modified from the Chicago Asthma Surveillance Initiative study. A total of 2,322 phone calls with 527 successful contacts were made over 1,938 distinct phone lines, resulting in a response rate of 175 of 527 calls (33.2%). Seventy-nine of the participants (45.1%) reported that at least one of their family members (including themselves) has asthma. Eight persons (4.6%) reported asthma as one of the top three health concerns in their community. Of the top three health reasons mentioned for children’s being absent from school, only seven persons (4%) mentioned asthma. Participants were unlikely to perceive that the problems with access to asthma care and environmental triggers for asthma in their communities were any worse compared with other communities. Participants having family members with diagnosed asthma scored no better when asked general-knowledge questions about asthma or its signs and triggers than those without a family member having asthma.

Conclusions: The participants’ knowledge and beliefs about the seriousness of asthma revealed in this study appeared unlikely to enhance or support compliance with the challenging requirements of the National Asthma Education and Prevention Panel guidelines. The study was conducted with a small sample, and the results should be carefullyinterpreted.

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