[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
Views 591
Citations 0
Original Investigation
March 9, 2020

Association of Childhood Asthma With Federal Rental Assistance

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Health Policy and Management, University of Maryland School of Public Health, College Park
  • 2Department of Sociology and Criminology, Penn State University School of Public Policy, State College, Pennsylvania
  • 3Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Maryland School of Public Health, College Park
  • 4Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland
JAMA Pediatr. Published online March 9, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.6242
Key Points

Question  Is participation in a federal rental assistance program associated with asthma outcomes in children?

Findings  In this survey study of 2992 children compared those currently participating in a rental assistance program with those waiting to enter such a program, participation in a rental assistance program was associated with a reduction in emergency department use among children with an asthma attack in the past year, but no significant changes were found in asthma attack or asthma diagnoses.

Meaning  Rental assistance may be associated with reduced use of emergency department services for the treatment of asthma.

Abstract

Importance  Millions of low-income children in the United States reside in substandard or unaffordable housing. Relieving these burdens may be associated with changes in asthma outcomes.

Objectives  To examine whether participation in the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) rental assistance programs is associated with childhood asthma outcomes and to examine whether associations varied by program type (public housing, multifamily housing, or housing choice vouchers).

Design, Setting, and Participants  This survey study used data from the nationally representative National Health Interview Survey linked to administrative housing assistance records from January 1, 1999, to December 31, 2014. A total of 2992 children aged 0 to 17 years who were currently receiving rental assistance or would enter a rental assistance program within 2 years of survey interview were included. Data analysis was performed from January 15, 2018, to August 31, 2019.

Exposures  Participation in rental assistance provided by HUD.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Ever been diagnosed with asthma, 12-month history of asthma attack, and 12-month history of visiting an emergency department for the treatment of asthma among program participants vs those waiting to enter a program. Overall participation was examined, and participation in public or multifamily housing was compared with participation in housing choice vouchers.

Results  This study included 2992 children who were currently participating in a HUD program or would enter a program within 2 years. Among children with an asthma attack in the past year, participation in a rental assistance program was associated with a reduced use of emergency departments for asthma of 18.2 percentage points (95% CI, −29.7 to −6.6 percentage points). Associations were only found after entrance into a program, suggesting that they were not confounded by time-varying factors. Statistically significant results were found for participation in public or multifamily housing (percentage point change, −36.6; 95% CI, −54.8 to −18.4) but not housing choice vouchers (percentage point change, −7.2; 95% CI, −24.6 to 10.3). No statistically significant evidence of changes in asthma attacks was found (percentage point change, −2.7; 95% CI, −12.3 to 7.0 percentage points). Results for asthma diagnosis were smaller and only significant at the 10% level (−4.3; 95% CI, −8.8 to 0.2 percentage points).

Conclusions and Relevance  Among children with a recent asthma attack, rental assistance was associated with less emergency department use. These results may have important implications for the well-being of low-income families and health care system costs.

Limit 200 characters
Limit 25 characters
Conflicts of Interest Disclosure

Identify all potential conflicts of interest that might be relevant to your comment.

Conflicts of interest comprise financial interests, activities, and relationships within the past 3 years including but not limited to employment, affiliation, grants or funding, consultancies, honoraria or payment, speaker's bureaus, stock ownership or options, expert testimony, royalties, donation of medical equipment, or patents planned, pending, or issued.

Err on the side of full disclosure.

If you have no conflicts of interest, check "No potential conflicts of interest" in the box below. The information will be posted with your response.

Not all submitted comments are published. Please see our commenting policy for details.

Limit 140 characters
Limit 3600 characters or approximately 600 words
    ×