PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 16 (UPI) -- Researchers are studying how low-income adults with asthma are at a higher risk of death and hospitalization due to their living circumstances.
The study, from the Community Asthma Prevention Program at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, looked at the living conditions of low-income adult asthma patients and the impact on their asthma.
Published in the December 2016 Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the research analyzed patients based on reports from community health workers who visited the asthma patients in their homes in Philadelphia, many in rowhouses built in the 19th century.
The results showed that many of the low-income adults lived in conditions of poor housing and neighborhood violence with a lack of social support, which created barriers to public healthcare and treatment.
"Many of these patients start to feel a sense of hopelessness, especially the very sick," Dr. Tyra Bryant-Stephens, corresponding author and medical director of CAPP at CHOP, said in a press release. "They feel there is very little possibility of changing their current living situation, which includes poor housing, exposure to violent crime, and limited access to transportation. Some of these living conditions make it difficult or impossible for patients to get their medical visits, which results in a further decline of their health."
These high-stress environments resulted in many patients continuing to smoke, about 28 percent, regardless of the impact it had on their asthma. Other issues the community health workers found were low-education rates, little access to healthy food and poor overall health; 58 percent of patients had high blood pressure and 32 percent had diabetes.
"As long as there is poor housing, health disparities will continue to exist, despite medical advancements being made in the fight against asthma," Bryant-Stephens said. "The issue is not limited to Philadelphia and needs to be addressed on a national scale. Without addressing poor housing, we will never be able to truly eliminate disparities in outcomes among adult asthma patients."