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An estimated 5 million U.S. children have asthma. Too many of these children are unnecessarily impaired. Much of the money spent on asthma is for high-cost health care services to treat acute periods of illness. Many asthma attacks could be avoided — and much suffering prevented and many medical costs saved — if more children received good-quality, ongoing asthma care and if the 11 policy recommendations presented in this report were implemented in a coordinated fashion. A national call to action, the policy recommendations span public and private interests and compel integration of public health activities across local, state, and federal levels.

This report summarizes the findings of an effort funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as part of the Pediatric Asthma Initiative, whose purpose is to address current gaps in national childhood asthma care. It is the first national initiative that simultaneously addresses treatment, policy, and financing issues for children with asthma at the patient, provider, and institutional levels. The purpose of RAND's effort was to:

  • Identify a range of policy actions in both the public and private sectors that could improve childhood asthma outcomes nationwide
  • Select a subset of policies to create a blueprint for national policy in this area
  • Outline alternatives to implement these policies that build on prior efforts.

The effort developed a comprehensive policy framework that maps the identified strategies to one overall policy objective: to promote the development and maintenance of asthma-friendly communities — communities in which children with asthma are swiftly diagnosed, receive appropriate and ongoing treatment, and are not exposed to environmental factors that exacerbate their condition. This report is intended as a working guide for coordinating the activities of both public and private organizations at the federal, state, and local community levels.

The research described in this report was sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and performed under the auspices of RAND Health.

This report is part of the RAND monograph report series. The monograph/report was a product of RAND from 1993 to 2003. RAND monograph/reports presented major research findings that addressed the challenges facing the public and private sectors. They included executive summaries, technical documentation, and synthesis pieces.

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