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Program could help teens control asthma
Date:3/8/2010

AUGUSTA, Ga. An asthma program specifically tailored to teens could help those in rural areas manage their disease and avoid potentially fatal complications, Medical College of Georgia researchers say.

Black males have a death rate from asthma that is six times greater than their white counterparts, and Dr. Dennis Ownby, chief in the MCG School of Medicine Section of Allergy and Immunology, believes asthma rates are as bad in rural areas as they are in inner cities.

"The prevalence is probably the same in rural areas," he said. "But teens from those areas already face a number of other problems that can complicate their disease poor housing quality, air pollution, more trouble getting to doctors and smaller, less-equipped hospitals."

Forgetting to take medications or carry rescue inhalers only exacerbates the problem, as does exposure to tobacco either from smoking or second-hand smoke. Dr. Ownby said previous studies have shown smoking is more prevalent in rural areas than inner-cities.

He and other researchers think that Puff City, a culturally-tailored intervention program aimed at three key areas reduction of tobacco exposure, adherence to medication and attack readiness could help at-risk teens better manage their asthma.

Over the next three years, with $2.1 million in funding from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, Drs. Ownby and Martha Tingen, a nurse researcher at the Georgia Prevention Institute, will work with 300 Ninth- to 11th-graders with asthma from Burke, Jefferson and McDuffie counties. Half of the teens will be exposed to traditional educational asthma Web sites; the other half will use Puff City.

Developed and tested by Christine Joseph, an epidemiologist at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Puff City uses a "hip" character known as DJ Puffman to reach teens through a multi-session, Web-based program. Each time students log on, the character gives advice that is indi
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Contact: Jennifer Hilliard
jhilliard@mcg.edu
706-721-8604
Medical College of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert  

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