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Asthma Health Outcomes Project

Overviews of Surveyed Asthma ProgramsSeptember 2005

Domestic Programs: Virginia (cont’d)Back to Index

Sentara's  Asthma Disease Management Program:  Utilizing "Life Coaches" for Children with Asthma

Sentara Health Management

Virginia Beach, VA

Randy C. Axelrod, MD


Sentara Health Management implemented an asthma disease management program beginning in 1997 in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia.

The program objective was to help children achieve and maintain control of asthma-related symptoms and to reduce resource use and associated costs. The program used "life coaches" and home-based strategies to assess, teach, and monitor asthma self-management by children and their caregivers. Life coaches were registered nurses who were certified in asthma disease management and knowledgeable about community and family resources.  

The goal of asthma education was to increase compliance with use of appropriate asthma medications and to encourage children and their caregivers to make comprehensive behavior and lifestyle changes. Life coaches made home visits and conducted routine monthly telephone calls to monitor the children and to provide early intervention as needed to prevent complications. Both the child and the caregiver were trained to use the Asthma Program Treatment Plan, including when to call the life coach when symptoms intensified or current treatment did not work. Life coaches were available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to intervene and assist the child. Children were followed for one year or until self-management was achieved.

Program evaluation using a sample of 294 participating children showed a positive impact on medication use, hospitalizations, and emergency visits.

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