TUSD schools to participate in new asthma program - Tucson News Now

TUSD schools to participate in new asthma program

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

TucsonUnified School District is partnering with the Mel and Enid Zuckerman Collegeof Public Health and the American Lung Association for a program to helpstudents with asthma.

SelectTUSD elementary schools will be participating in this new study - SupervisedAsthma Medicine in Schools (SAMS), according to a TUSD release. 

Fundingfor SAMS is provided by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.  SAMS will focus on the cost effectiveness ofschools providing access to asthma medications for students in low income and minorityfamilies. 

"Ourschools are strong advocates for child health and are a logical place to reachchildren with asthma. Providing asthma care in schools makes sense becausechildren with asthma symptoms frequently miss school and may fall behindacademically," said Dr. Lynn B. Gerald, PhD, MSPH who will be the head of the researchteam for SAMS, in a recent TUSD release.

"Myteam's previous research with Alabama elementary schools showed thatsupervising daily asthma medication at school increased adherence and reducedthe number of episodes of poor asthma control," Dr. Gerald said. "The challengeis to find a way to help these children without over-burdening our schools. Ourcollaboration with the American Lung Association, Tucson office, will allow atrusted community partner to shoulder some of this burden."

SAMSwill be implemented in 16 TUSD elementary schools beginning in the 2014-2015school year.  Schools will be paired by similar characteristics and thenrandomized to either an "intervention group," which will start the programimmediately or to a "delayed group," which will start the intervention in the2015-2016 school year.

Approximately10 percent of students are expected to have asthma and be eligible to enroll inthe program with parental consent. Students in the program will be provided anasthma action plan, daily asthma medication and quick-relief medication at nocost. Students also will receive the American Lung Association's award-winningOpen Airways in Schools curriculum to strengthen their asthma self-managementskills.

Students'use of the medication, number of asthma symptom days, number of visits to theschool's health office and number of school absences will be used to determinehow well the program works.

For the complete list of participating TUSD elementary schools,please visit the College of Public Health website

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