Randomized controlled trial of emergency department interventions to improve primary care follow-up for patients with acute asthma

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Emergency Medicine

Publication Date


Document Type



Acute Disease; Adolescent; Adult; Anti-Inflammatory Agents; Appointments and Schedules; Asthma; Child; *Continuity of Patient Care; *Emergency Service, Hospital; Female; Glucocorticoids; Humans; Male; *Patient Compliance; Prednisone; *Primary Health Care


Emergency Medicine


OBJECTIVE: Emergency department (ED) visits for asthma are frequent and may indicate increased morbidity and poor primary care access. Our objective was to compare the effect of two interventions on primary care follow-up after ED treatment for asthma exacerbations.

METHODS: We performed a randomized controlled trial of patients 2 to 54 years old who were judged safe for discharge receiving prednisone, and who were available for contact at 2 days and 30 days. Patients were excluded if they were previously enrolled or did not speak English. Patients received usual discharge care (group A); free prednisone, vouchers for transport to and from a primary care visit, and either a telephone reminder to schedule a visit (group B); or a prior scheduled appointment (group C). Follow-up with a primary care provider for asthma within 30 days was the main outcome. Secondary outcomes were recurrent ED visits, subsequent hospitalizations, quality of life, and use of inhaled corticosteroids 1 year later.

RESULTS: Three hundred eighty-four patients were enrolled. Baseline demographics, chronic asthma severity, and access to care were similar across groups. Primary care follow-up was higher in group C (65%) vs group A (42%) or group B (48%) [p = 0.002]. Group C intervention remained significant (odds ratio, 2.8; 95% confidence interval, 1.5 to 5.1) when adjusted for other factors influencing follow-up (prior primary care relationship, insurance status). There were no differences in ED, hospitalizations, quality of life, or inhaled corticosteroid use at 1 year after the index ED visit.

CONCLUSION: An intervention including free medication, transportation vouchers, and appointment assistance significantly increased the likelihood that discharged asthma patients obtained primary care follow-up but did not impact long-term outcomes.

DOI of Published Version



Chest. 2006 Feb;129(2):257-65. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title



At the time of publication, Edwin Boudreaux was not yet affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

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Link to Article in PubMed

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