New data from the National Institutes ofHealth suggest that home-based environmentalintervention programs are cost-effective. A2-year study, conducted at 7 centers acrossthe United States, was funded by the NationalInstitute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.The findings showed that such interventionprograms greatly help inner-city children whohave moderate-to-severe asthma.
The home-based programs were designedto target 6 major classes of allergens that triggerasthma symptoms—dust mites, cockroaches,pet dander, rodents, passive smoking,and mold. The programs featurededucational home visits with specific measuresfor reducing or eliminating allergen levelsin the home. The measures included placingimpermeable covers on mattresses, boxsprings, and pillows; installing air purifierswith high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters;using vacuum cleaners with HEPA filters;and professional pest control.
Children who received the intervention had19% fewer unscheduled clinic visits and a13% reduction in the use of albuterol inhalers.These children also experienced 38 moresymptom-free days over the course of thestudy than those who did not receive theintervention.
The at-home programs successfullydecreased allergen levels in the home andreduced symptoms in asthma patients. Thedata also showed that the cost of caring forasthma patients would be even lower if theseintervention programs were implemented in acommunity setting, and they would be ascost-effective as many different drug interventions.The results were published in theon-line version of the Journal of Allergy andClinical Immunology.