Asthma Among Hispanics: Diversity Within Diversity

Cases in Disparities

Désirée Lie, MD, MSEd


December 08, 2010

Case Presentation

The mother of a 7-year-old, Hispanic boy, Juan, brings him to a clinic in Los Angeles, California, for follow-up after an episode of severe exacerbation of asthma treated in the emergency department (ED), and he is observed for 24 hours in the hospital. Juan's mother, who has limited English proficiency, reports that she had neglected to fill his last prescription for daily inhaled corticosteroids. On further questioning, it is revealed that Juan takes his medication only intermittently and relies mainly on inhaled albuterol on an as-needed basis when he experiences wheezing. He is on the 10th percentile for weight, which fell from the 25th percentile over the past year. He has missed 7 days of school this year due to asthma-related symptoms. His previous diagnosis was chronic intermittent asthma. His brother and sister have atopy affecting the skin with perennial rhinitis, but not asthma.

The family had moved from New York City 1 year ago to seek employment for the father and to be closer to other family members. Mother reports that Juan's asthma was under better control when they lived in New York City despite the greater extremes in climate.

Questions to Consider

  • Are there differences in prevalence, morbidity, mortality, and other outcomes of asthma between Hispanic groups?

  • What are some causes of these differences?

  • How can practitioners best address these differences to optimize asthma care outcomes for their Hispanic patients?


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