Identifying students with self-report of asthma and respiratory symptoms in an urban, high school setting

Christine L.M. Joseph, Alan P. Baptist, Sonja Stringer, Suzanne Havstad, Dennis R. Ownby, Christine Cole Johnson, L. Keoki Williams, Edward L. Peterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Strategies for identifying urban youth with asthma have not been described for high school settings. African-American high school students are rarely included in asthma studies, despite a high risk of asthma mortality when compared to other age and race groups. Identification and follow-up of children with uncontrolled respiratory symptoms are necessary to reduce the burden of asthma morbidity and mortality, especially in underserved areas. We describe a process used to identify high school students who could benefit from intervention based on self-report of asthma and/or respiratory symptoms, and the costs associated with symptom-identification. Letters announcing a survey were mailed to parents of 9th-11th graders by an authorized vendor managing student data for the school district. Scan sheets with student identifiers were distributed to English teachers at participating schools who administered the survey during a scheduled class. Forms were completed by 5,967 of the 7,446 students assigned an English class (80% response). Although prevalence of lifetime asthma was 15.8%, about 11% of students met program criteria for enrollment through report of an asthma diagnosis and recent symptoms, medication use, or health care utilization. Another 9.2% met criteria by reported symptoms only. Cost of symptom-identification was $5.23/student or $32.29/program-eligible student. There is a need for school-based asthma programs targeting urban adolescents, and program initiation will likely require identification of students with uncontrolled symptoms. The approach described was successfully implemented with a relatively high response rate. Itemized expenses are presented to facilitate modifications to reduce costs. This information may benefit providers, researchers, or administrators targeting similar populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)60-69
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Urban Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007


  • Adolescent
  • African-American
  • Asthma
  • Screening
  • Urban

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Urban Studies
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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