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Easy Breathing for Schools: Lessons Learned from a School-Nurse Centered Asthma Program

By Christine Langton, MPH, MSW posted 06-05-2018 10:30

  

Asthma affects 8.3% of children in the U.S (https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/asthma.htm) and is the leading cause of school absenteeism due to chronic illness (Moonie, Sterling, Figgs, & Castro, 2006). Low-income and minority children who are disproportionately affected by asthma (doi:10.1542/peds.2015-2354) have even higher rates of school absenteeism (https://ed.gov/datastory/chronicabsenteeism.html). Both school absenteeism and the effects of sleep deprivation due to uncontrolled asthma affect academic performance and result in lower school performance in students with asthma compared to students without asthma (Diette et al., 2000; Tsakiris et al., 2013).

Children spend close to 30% of their day in school (https://nces.ed.gov/surveys/sass/tables/sass0708_035_s1s.asp) and interact with the school nurse more than any other health care provider. The school nurse is the most qualified person for managing asthma care in the school setting and is well positioned to take the lead in reducing health and academic disparities experienced by students with asthma.

Easy Breathing for Schools is a school-nurse centered asthma program developed specifically for school nurses with considerable input from school nurses. While we know that school nurses successfully manage asthma in their practices every day, we also appreciate the competing priorities with which school nurses must contend. Easy Breathing for Schools was designed for the busy school nurse and provides simple to use tools for managing asthma in the school setting.

During my session I will discuss why and how the program came to be, how we met with school nurses, clinicians and families to make sure we got it right, implementation of the program in three CT cities and the very promising health and academic outcomes that we are observing.

I am excited to share our program with all of you. Please come to my session on Monday at 3:15 pm in the Grand Ballroom VII-VIII. Hope to see you there!
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