A Patient Advocate and Literacy-Based Treatment of Asthma

2014-08-27 03:13:31 | BioPortfolio


Half of US adults have no more than basic reading and numerical skills. A consequence is inadequate health literacy, which is associated with unsatisfactory patient-provider communication and poor health outcomes in chronic diseases, including asthma. We have adapted a patient navigator intervention to address asthma in high risk communities as a practical, immediate, and sustainable method of achieving effective health literacy in patients low health literacy. This intervention will lead to improved adherence and asthma control, attenuating health disparities so marked in asthma. It is compared for efficacy and cost-effectiveness with asthma education.


This application addresses broad Challenge Area (05), Comparative Effectiveness Research, and Specific Challenge Topic 05-MD105, Health Literacy. Half of US adults have no more than basic reading and numerical skills; inadequate health literacy is a consequence. It is associated with unsatisfactory patient-provider communication and poor health outcomes in chronic diseases including asthma. We found low numeracy to be associated with prior ED visits and hospitalizations for asthma and determined that numerical skill may attenuate the association of minority status with lower asthma-related quality of life. We propose a Patient Advocate Intervention (PAI) as the most practical immediate but sustainable method of achieving effective health literacy (EHL) (understanding of asthma management and the practice/health system). Adapted from the Patient Navigator of Harold P. Freeman, MD and informed by focus groups of asthma patients, the PAI addresses low literacy, facilitating patient-provider communication surrounding self-management and navigation of the practice and health system to ensure medical recommendations can be accomplished. The PA is a nonprofessional with guidance from a social worker who will assist with and model preparations for a visit with the asthma doctor, attend the visit, and afterwards confirm understanding as well as facilitate scheduling, obtaining insurance coverage, and overcoming other barriers to carrying out medical advice. The primary outcome is electronically-monitored use of inhaled corticosteroids (ICS), the treatment of choice for all but the mildest asthma. ICS use is a marker of successful patient-provider communication. Other outcomes are asthma-related: hospitalizations, ED visits, change in FEV1, and asthma-related quality of life. We hypothesize that the PAI will improve these outcomes by promoting EHL.

We will enroll 84 adults with a high prevalence of low numerical skills who are approximately 67% black and 10% Latino with moderate or severe asthma to carry out the following Specific Aims. Specific Aim 1: refine and evaluate the feasibility of PAI and Specific Aim 2: conduct a randomized comparison of PAI with standard asthma education to obtain effect size estimates for ICS adherence and asthma-related outcomes for a future R01 confirmatory randomized trial of the final version of PAI. Exploratory analyses will assess EHL as a mediator, various moderators, and estimate the incremental costs of PAI. This novel project fills several research gaps. It 1) compares and tests an intervention addressing literacy to improve health, one that can easily be incorporated into practice to better patient self-management and preventive care, 2) is a potentially long-lasting intervention which will benefit all patients, especially those with low health literacy, and 3) will potentially improve prevention of asthma exacerbations, reducing the need for ED use.

Study Design

Allocation: Randomized, Control: Active Control, Endpoint Classification: Efficacy Study, Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment, Masking: Double Blind (Subject, Investigator, Outcomes Assessor), Primary Purpose: Health Services Research




patient advocate


University of Pennsylvania
United States




National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2014-08-27T03:13:31-0400

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