Few asthma educational materials properly target minorities, report finds

 Dr. Jane Brotanek
 Dr. Jane Brotanek

DALLAS — Nov. 15, 2007 — A study by UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers has found a need for more culturally competent asthma educational materials for parents of minority children.

“Minority children are disproportionately more likely to suffer asthma attacks and be hospitalized or die due to asthma,” said Dr. Glenn Flores, senior author of the study and a professor of pediatrics at UT Southwestern. “Our failure to provide understandable educational materials to this population may be placing millions of children at risk for preventable asthma hospitalizations.”

Their study, appearing in today’s issue of Ethnicity and Disease, also recommends that certified translators with adequate levels of cultural training be used to translate asthma educational materials into other languages.

“Failure to consider patients’ cultures can have serious consequences and can impede preventative efforts,” said Dr. Jane Brotanek, assistant professor of pediatrics and the study’s lead author. “Providing culturally competent materials is a key component of reducing racial and ethnic disparities in pediatric asthma care. Simply translating materials into a different language is not sufficient and does not constitute cultural competency.”

In the study Dr. Brotanek, who recently joined the
UT Southwestern faculty from the Medical College of Wisconsin, and her colleagues analyzed findings gathered in a series of meetings held to develop and test a tool for evaluating the competency of asthma educational materials. The evaluation, obtained between October 2004 and March 2005, consisted of seven domains: language, normative cultural values, folk illnesses, parent/patient beliefs, provider practices, visuals and an overall assessment. All seven domains were scored using a five-point scale.

The tool was then used to analyze asthma educational materials obtained from Wisconsin health-care organizations and clinics. Poor quality/erroneous translations were found in half of the 32 materials reviewed. Only 17 samples targeted minorities, and most of those were aimed at Hispanic audiences.

None of the materials targeted African-Americans or Asians. Although the study focused solely on Wisconsin’s population, Dr. Flores said its conclusions have nationwide implications.

“Asthma results in more hospitalizations than any other childhood disease, accounting for approximately 200,000 children hospitalized each year, at an estimated cost of up to $581 million,” he said. “Proper, culturally competent asthma education for minority children and families could prevent thousands of hospitalizations, save millions of dollars in health-care costs, and reduce the number of missed school and work days due to childhood asthma.”

Drs. Brotanek and Flores said they hope the tool used for their research might serve as a model for other states in evaluating the cultural competency of asthma educational materials. Both said more research is needed to improve the process of creating culturally competent asthma educational materials that target diverse racial and ethnic minorities.

Kristen Grimes, of Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin, also contributed to the study.

Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/pediatrics to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in pediatrics.



Media Contact: Erin Prather Stafford

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