RVA Breathes

IPHI partnered with the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Department of Psychology to implement RVA Breathes. This program was a six-year NIH-funded research grant to assess the impact of evidence-based interventions on families with a child with uncontrolled asthma in Richmond, VA.

Child at home using a nebulizer to help with Asthma.

Richmond, VA, is consistently ranked one of the most challenging places to live in the United States for those diagnosed with asthma. This study sought to identify interventions to help Richmond-based families manage their child’s asthma. Working in partnership with a team of Healthy Homes Assessors from the Richmond and Henrico Health Districts (RHHD), IPHI community health workers (CHW) conducted home visits with families with a child with uncontrolled asthma. The team provided education on asthma self-management, establishing a medical home, identifying environmental triggers, and techniques to reduce asthma attacks. The team helped families identify and navigate resources to address health-related social needs.

The final post-intervention visits and data analysis remain ongoing, but current outcomes of interest include reduced emergency department utilization, unnecessary hospitalization, and increased school attendance and medication usage. Preliminary results showed:

  • Caregivers gained the confidence to manage asthma attacks and talk to their children’s doctors and school personnel.
  • Children became comfortable with talking about asthma with their parents and doctors.
  • Caregivers reported developing new strategies to improve medication adherence.
  • Caregivers frequently discussed the invaluable psychosocial support the CHW and Healthy Homes teams provided. Having someone to discuss challenges and fears helped to manage stress. Children felt supported in addressing challenges.

After this project, the VCU and RHHD teams worked together to develop a community-based asthma program model. With more flexibility and adaptability, the community-based program model is well-suited to meet parents where they are. Recognizing the pilot’s success, research project results, and the importance of sustaining this resource, RHHD has agreed to continue this intervention starting June 2022.

For more information on RVA Breathes, contact Rebecca Epstein at [email protected].