Study: Latino, African-American Teens Not as Likely to Have Undiagnosed Asthma Than White Teens

A new study published in the Journal of Urban Health found that Latino and African-American teens were approximately one-third less likely to be undiagnosed with asthma in comparison to White teens.

Researchers from the Columbia University School of Nursing, the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and Dickinson College found that living in a health care provider shortage area was associated with a 29 percent lower risk for undiagnosed asthma.

The researchers decided to focus the study on Latino and African-American teens as a result of the known health disparities that impact the groups that could have caused providers to evaluate both groups more, leading to fewer undiagnosed cases, according to Crain’s New York Business.

In total, just above 20 percent of teens who participated in the study reported having symptoms of asthma, such as wheezing and chest tightness, but were not diagnosed. Adolescents who reported being diagnosed was twice of that percentage.

“I think this is a really important first step and that it does need to be replicated with a representative sample to better understand the relationships,” said Dr. Jean-Marie Bruzzese, associate professor of applied developmental psychology at Columbia’s School of Nursing. “But in light of the findings, we do think it is important that, when medical providers work with lower-income urban samples, they screen for asthma in adolescents.”

The researchers also found that the chance of having undiagnosed asthma was higher in neighborhoods that were increasingly racially segregated, which could indicate a connection to access to health care.

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