Cheryl Golden, Ph.D.; Le Moyne-Owen College; IRBP Research Award
We're particularly concerned with how environmental triggers impact how people respond to asthma and specifically what education can be provided to caregivers of children with or without asthma to hopefully modify the environments in their homes so that children who either have the asthma condition or even those children who may not have asthma but who could be impacted by certain environmental triggers in the home that might precipitate asthma or asthma-like symptoms might be helped. And so our thought is that if we could provide more education that persons who have children might be able to exhibit and actually assume more control over their environmental conditions. People tend to, like with most medical conditions, rely a lot on prescription drugs. We're hoping that using methods that are non-prescriptive, like integrated pest management, might be useful for persons who have kids especially. We know that asthma ranks very high in terms of incidents in military persons and that it is disruptive and it causes loss of work if one is a parent to a child with asthma. Children miss days. It's very expensive. And so, the study itself has great value to just those pieces. Our study looked at caregivers of children who either had asthma or didn't have asthma. We struggled with that, as to whether or not we were going to include children who didn't have asthma symptoms - but we found in the research that even though a person may not have asthma certain allergens that exacerbate asthma conditions in children actually promote respiratory difficulty even in people that don't have asthma conditions. So it seemed worthwhile to do it. Our study also will do some comparative analysis involving those caregivers who do have asthmatic children versus those who don't and we're excited about the possibilities of outcome for either group. For the Army it's going to certainly sensitize persons who actually may know a whole lot about the asthma condition but may not exhibit control over their environments. So we think some instruction, and some very pointed instruction, about things in the environment that promote asthmatic difficulty might be useful. The significance of the study, obviously, improving military readiness by again reducing the number of symptoms, and it has mobilized the resources of our entire community to look at the problem. At this point, we're in the data analysis phase, so I wish I could tell you that some of our research objectives have been met. I can only say that we are at the point of data analysis and we'd love to come back and talk about what we've actually found. The study is called Partnership for Asthma Trigger-Free Homes. Those persons who participated in the study became a learning community organized around the thought of asthma, asthma education, environmental triggers and they formed support groups among themselves and that is exactly what we'd like to see happen. We'd like to see formation of friendships and again, partnerships. The implications of this work goes well beyond what we were able to do with this study. It has an impact on the futures of young people that we may never really see in this lifetime.