For Black adolescents with poorly controlled asthma, participating in a family- and community-based treatment plan could lead to better lung function and adherence to medications, as well as result in fewer hospital visits and frequency of symptoms, suggest new findings published in Pediatrics and reported by Healio.

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, African-American children have the highest prevalence of asthma. What’s more, research also shows that Black kids are four times more likely to be hospitalized for this respiratory disorder than their white counterparts. In addition, African-American children are six times more likely to die of asthma than white and Hispanic kids.

For the study, researchers at Florida State University recruited 167 Black adolescents, between age 12 and 16, with moderate-to-severe persistent asthma. Participants had at least one in-patient hospitalization or at least two emergency department visits in a 12-month period between January 2009 and June 2012.

Scientists randomly assigned these young folks to a six-month home- and community-based treatment known as Multisystemic Therapy-Health Care, determined to be very beneficial to high-risk adolescents, or a control group. (This treatment uses cognitive behavioral interventions that help individuals cultivate more positive reactions when faced with challenging situations.)

Although researchers found no remarkable differences in the number of visits to the emergency room between the two sets of participants, the comprehensive family- and community-based treatment significantly improved lung function, medication adherence, asthma symptom frequency and in-patient hospitalizations in African-American adolescents with poorly controlled asthma.

As a result of these findings, “further evaluation in effectiveness and implementation trials is warranted,” concluded Sylvie Naar, PhD, a distinguished endowed professor in the department of behavioral sciences and social medicine, and director of the Center for Translational Behavioral Research at the university.

Click here to learn why asthma inhalers don’t work equally well for all children.