SEPTEMBER 27, 2023
3-year results of Allergy & Asthma Network’s Trusted Messengers asthma coaching program show improved symptom control and quality of life
FAIRFAX, VA – Adults with uncontrolled asthma who take part in virtual asthma coaching show improved asthma control and quality of life, and experience fewer doctor or emergency department visits. Those are the key findings of a new impact report summarizing Allergy & Asthma Network’s innovative Virtual Asthma Coaching program.
The Virtual Asthma Coaching program is part of Trusted Messengers, Allergy & Asthma Network’s largest health equity initiative. It is a novel approach to help people with asthma, particularly those living in under-resourced communities, better understand their condition and improve their asthma self-management skills.
The program involves 1-on-1 personalized coaching with six weeks of digital check-ins by a certified asthma educator. It includes remote monitoring and disease management tools using a smartphone, tablet or computer.
“Our Virtual Asthma Coaching program saves lives,” says Lynda Mitchell, CEO of Allergy & Asthma Network. “This unique national initiative starts by establishing trust in communities so that we can address health inequities and expand access to healthcare for under-resourced groups. It drives community engagement by empowering lifestyle changes and healthy behaviors through education. It uses digital innovation to translate patient data insights into personalized care.”
The Virtual Asthma Coaching program began in 2020 as a pilot program during Allergy & Asthma Network’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Network recognized that people in Black and Hispanic/Latino communities were at higher risk for hospitalization and death from COVID-19.
Working with doctors, asthma educators, physician assistants, respiratory therapists and other healthcare professionals, the Network co-hosted outreach events with the support of trusted messengers (such as pastors) at churches, health fairs and community centers.
The Network screened people for asthma and provided COVID-19 testing and vaccinations. People found to be at high risk for moderate to severe asthma were invited to enroll in the Virtual Asthma Coaching program. They were referred to local asthma specialists and given guidelines-based asthma education.
Asthma Coaching Impact
In 2022, Allergy & Asthma Network hosted 17 Trusted Messengers lung screening events and engaged with more than 2,500 people in communities nationwide. The 217 adults who enrolled in the Asthma Coaching program reported better knowledge in managing their asthma, fewer asthma attacks, and greater confidence in asking questions at their healthcare appointments.
People with very poorly controlled asthma who completed the six-week program reported:
- 2.42 fewer days with symptoms;
- 1.33 fewer days of nighttime awakenings due to asthma;
- 1.63 fewer days using quick-relief medication.
People who identified as Black and completed the six-week program reported:
- 1.53 fewer days with asthma symptoms;
- 1.08 fewer days with nighttime awakenings due to asthma.
In addition, people who had an annual income less than $50,000 and completed the six-week program reported 2.25 fewer days with asthma symptoms, a decline of 1.47 days from baseline.
“Asthma coaching gave me tools and strategies to help me manage my health,” Frenika Rivers, a patient with severe asthma, says. “I was given suggestions on how to remember to take my medication. I was educated about what signs I need to look for to identify an asthma attack. I’m better prepared to ask the right questions when I go to the pulmonologist. It empowered me to take more control of my health.”
In late 2022, the Network expanded Trusted Messengers and the Virtual Asthma Coaching program to address the needs of the Hispanic/Latino communities, offering the program in Spanish language.
In late 2023 and 2024, Trusted Messengers and Virtual Asthma Coaching will involve securing partnerships with groups that want to bring the program to their local communities. It was recently expanded to offer patient education for food allergies, environmental allergies, eczema, and other related conditions.
Health Equity Focus
More than 25 million people live with asthma in the United States. This includes approximately 4 million Black, 2.3 million Hispanic/Latino and 278,000 Native American people. U.S. asthma rates are highest among Black (10.9%) and Native American people (12%). People from Puerto Rico have more than twice the asthma rate (16.1%) compared to the overall Hispanic population (6.4%).
Asthma disparities that impact Black, Hispanic/Latino and Native American communities have worsened even during a period of remarkable advancement in asthma diagnosis, management and treatment. This has resulted in patterns of poor adherence to treatment, reduced productivity at work and school, poor quality of life, and increased disease morbidity and mortality.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Black people are three times more likely to die from asthma than non-Hispanic white people.
- Black children are 4.5 times more likely to be hospitalized than non-Hispanic white children.
- Hispanic/Latino people are twice as likely to visit the emergency department for asthma than non-Hispanic white people.
- Hispanic/Latino children are 40 percent more likely to die from asthma than non-Hispanic white children.
“Systemic inequalities and social determinants of health, which include where you live and your income and education level, negatively impact under-resourced communities,” Mitchell says. “Efforts to reduce health disparities require a long-term approach to create a meaningful impact.
“Health equity is core to the mission of Allergy & Asthma Network,” Mitchell continued. “Through Trusted Messengers, we are committed to including health equity within all our initiatives and programs – and to serving as a voice for those who need it most.”
The Trusted Messengers Virtual Asthma Coaching program is a public-private partnership designed to improve asthma outcomes. Learn more at AsthmaCoach.org.
About Allergy & Asthma Network
Founded in 1985, Allergy & Asthma Network is the leading nonprofit outreach, education, advocacy and research organization for individuals and families living with allergies, asthma and related conditions. Our mission is simple yet profound: to end needless death and suffering, empower people to take control of their health and well-being, and make healthcare more inclusive, equitable and accessible for people living with these conditions. We are committed to raising awareness, promoting understanding, offering resources, fostering collaboration, and advocating for policies and research that enhance quality of life for everyone impacted by these conditions. We specialize in making medically accurate information understandable to all while promoting evidence-based care.
About Trusted Messengers
Trusted Messengers is the signature health equity program of Allergy & Asthma Network. The program is built on a belief in community-led solutions to achieve equity in healthcare. Trusted Messengers began in 2020 to address the negative health impact of COVID-19 and asthma in the Black community. It involves partnerships with local churches, faith-based organizations, local and national groups, community health centers and doctors in under-resourced communities. The program is designed to help people get the knowledge they need – from trusted, credible sources – to adopt healthy behaviors and make informed decisions about their health. Certified asthma educators go into communities to conduct assessments for asthma, allergies, food allergies and eczema. People with asthma are invited to enroll in virtual asthma coaching, a free 6-week series of 1-on-1 online sessions – available in English and Spanish – with a certified asthma educator. Virtual asthma coaching has been shown to improve asthma control and self-management skills. Trusted Messengers is funded through the generous support of founding sponsor Sanofi, as well as Amgen, AstraZeneca, Genentech, Johnson & Johnson Innovations, Novartis and Regeneron.