New data from the National Institutes of Health suggest that home-based environmental intervention programs are cost-effective. A 2-year study, conducted at 7 centers across the United States, was funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The findings showed that such intervention programs greatly help inner-city children who have moderate-to-severe asthma.
The home-based programs were designed to target 6 major classes of allergens that trigger asthma symptomsdust mites, cockroaches, pet dander, rodents, passive smoking, and mold. The programs featured educational home visits with specific measures for reducing or eliminating allergen levels in the home. The measures included placing impermeable covers on mattresses, box springs, and pillows; installing air purifiers with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters; using vacuum cleaners with HEPA filters; and professional pest control.
Children who received the intervention had 19% fewer unscheduled clinic visits and a 13% reduction in the use of albuterol inhalers. These children also experienced 38 more symptom-free days over the course of the study than those who did not receive the intervention.
The at-home programs successfully decreased allergen levels in the home and reduced symptoms in asthma patients. The data also showed that the cost of caring for asthma patients would be even lower if these intervention programs were implemented in a community setting, and they would be as cost-effective as many different drug interventions. The results were published in the on-line version of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.