Minority patients were less likely to beprescribed asthma inhalers with steroidmedication in the first 2 years after theseinhalers were introduced in the 1980s,suggested the results of a study reportedin Medical Care (January 2006). Researchersat the Massachusetts GeneralHospital Institute for Health Policy hypothesizedthat minorities may have had limitedaccess to specialists who prescribedthese new devices, as well as lack ofmoney to afford them.
For the study, the investigatorsassessed data from the NationalAmbulatory Medical Survey from 1989to 1998. They identified 3700 asthma-relatedpatient visits to physicians. Theresearchers focused on whether asthmainhalers were prescribed or usedduring those visits; they also notedinformation about the patients' age andrace/ethnicity. The findings indicatedthat, during the first 2 years, minoritypatients were 50% less likely to receiveasthma inhalers, compared with nonminoritypatients.
A shift was seen in the mid 1990sbetween minority patients and nonminoritypatients. The change, however, was areflection of increased use of asthmainhalers by African Americans. In HispanicAmericans, the low prescription rate forasthma inhalers remained unchanged.Thefindings also revealed that children wereconsiderably less likely to be prescribedinhalers, compared with adults.