Glenn FloresThis is an interesting piece of news. UT Southwestern Medical Center scientists have found that informed adults may perhaps assist families in delaying complications associated with asthma. The findings suggest that interventions by parent mentors could effectively decrease wheezing, asthma attacks, emergency room visits and missed adult workdays. Apparently, parent mentors are those caregivers of asthmatic children who have obtained specialized topical training.

For the purpose of the study, a total of 220 African-American and Hispanic children from Milwaukee were believed to have been assigned at random to parent mentors. Mentors in the study were noted to be parents or caregivers who got professional training from a nurse asthma specialist and a program coordinator on a numerous asthma-related topics. Also, these children appear to be in the age group of two to eighteen and were asthmatic. Moreover, they were noted to have been seen for complications in urban emergency departments or were hospitalized at local children’s hospitals.

During the study, training sessions and a manual were known to have been used in order to present examples of improving asthmatic care. Besides, it appears to have focused on the significance of consistent treatment. In addition, the manual seems to have discussed on various issues. Supposedly, these issues included keeping asthmatic children out of hospitals, asthma medicines and triggers and cultural issues that can affect care.

Furthermore, during the study, mentors appear to have met twice with up to 10 families including asthmatic children. Also, they telephoned parents every month until one year after the initial emergency department visit or hospitalization. For families without telephone access, mentors seemed to have carried out only home visits. They also communicated on a regular basis with the asthma nurse specialist about issues that arose with participating families.

Lead author of the study, Dr. Glenn Flores, professor of pediatrics said that, “Childhood asthma disproportionately affects urban minority children. Asthma mortality among African-American children alone is almost five times higher than for white children. The goal for this study was to determine whether parent mentors would be more effective than traditional asthma care in improving asthma outcomes for minority children.”

The findings of the study revealed that children in the program seemed to have experienced considerable reductions in rapid-breathing episodes, asthma exacerbations and emergency department visits. Additionally, mentored parents or caregivers appeared to have displayed better knowledge about controlling their charger’s breathing problems.

“Not only did this program help the participating families, it also provided employment for those acting as parent mentors and allowed a community to address the health and needs of its children. The parent mentor interventions were successful social networking and show caregivers are receptive to hearing advice and instructions from their peers,” elucidates Dr. Flores, who holds the Judith and Charles Ginsburg Chair in Pediatrics.

The study authors claimed that added studies and trials will perhaps be required in order to evaluate the impact of mentors on health care treatment disparities seen for asthma and other pediatric conditions.

The findings of the study have been published in the journal, Pediatrics.