African American adolescents appear to be the most at risk for asthma morbidity and mortality even compared with other minority groups, yet there are few successful interventions for this population that are used to target poorly controlled asthma.
African American adolescents (age 12–16 years) with moderate-to-severe persistent asthma and ≥1 inpatient hospitalization or ≥2 emergency department visits in 12 months were randomly assigned to Multisystemic Therapy–Health Care or an attention control group (N = 167). Multisystemic Therapy–Health Care is a 6-month home- and community-based treatment that has been shown to improve illness management and health outcomes in high-risk adolescents by addressing the unique barriers for each individual family with cognitive behavioral interventions. The attention control condition was weekly family supportive counseling, which was also provided for 6 months in the home. The primary outcome was lung function (forced expiratory volume in 1 second [FEV1]) measured over 12 months of follow-up.
Linear mixed-effects models revealed that compared with adolescents in the comparison group, adolescents in the treatment group had significantly greater improvements in FEV1 secondary outcomes of adherence to controller medication, and the frequency of asthma symptoms. Adolescents in the treatment group had greater reductions in hospitalizations, but there were no differences in reductions in emergency department visits.
A comprehensive family- and community-based treatment significantly improved FEV1, medication adherence, asthma symptom frequency, and inpatient hospitalizations in African American adolescents with poorly controlled asthma. Further evaluation in effectiveness and implementation trials is warranted.