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Asthma Health Outcomes Project

Overviews of Surveyed Asthma ProgramsSeptember 2005

Domestic Programs: Michigan (cont'd)Back to Index

OAS+: Comprehensive School-based Asthma Program

University of Michigan

Ann Arbor, MI

Julie Dodge

(734) 647-3177         


OAS+: Comprehensive School-based Asthma Program began in 1995 and was administered through the University of Michigan. Fourteen elementary schools in Detroit, Michigan were selected to receive the program to assess the impact of a comprehensive school-based asthma program on symptoms, grades, and school absences in children, and parents' asthma management practices. Low income, urban, African-American children and their parents participated in the study.

The two main components of the program were "Open Airways for Schools (OAS)", disease management training for children with asthma, and "Environmental Detectives", asthma education classroom sessions for classmates of children with asthma. OAS involved a 50-minute lesson in the school once per week for 7 weeks, taught by trained health educators, to children determined as having asthma. The OAS curriculum was adapted for reading level and with updated content.  

Environmental Detectives was taught to all 3rd, 4th and 5th graders in the schools through a 50-minute lesson, once per week for 3 weeks. Trained health educators gave asthma education to enhance students' understanding of factors that may influence respiratory health in general and to help them develop empathy for children with asthma in particular.

Other program elements included: orientation to asthma and control strategies for school principals and counselors; briefings and building walk-throughs for custodial personnel regarding potential environmental triggers to asthma symptoms and practical means of remediation; school fairs for children and their caretakers, including asthma care question-and-answer sessions for the adults; and written communication on behalf of the family with the child's clinician.

Participation in the program resulted in a positive impact on school absences, symptoms, and self-management skills (parent and children). Improvement was also seen in school performance for math, science, reading, and physical education.

The program was part of the larger initiative, School-based Approaches to Managing Asthma. A strength of the program was the enthusiastic support it received from Detroit Public Schools.

The program ended in 2000. The American Lung Association is seeking to disseminate a version of OAS nationwide, with some of the modifications a result of this program.

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