, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp 15-28
Date: 13 Dec 2011

A Multi-factorial Model for Examining Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Acute Asthma Visits by Children

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Causes of children’s asthma health disparities are complex. Parents’ asthma illness representations may play a role.


The study aims to test a theoretically based, multi-factorial model for ethnic disparities in children’s acute asthma visits through parental illness representations.


Structural equation modeling investigated the association of parental asthma illness representations, sociodemographic characteristics, health care provider factors, and social–environmental context with children’s acute asthma visits among 309 White, Puerto Rican, and African American families was conducted.


Forty-five percent of the variance in illness representations and 30% of the variance in acute visits were accounted for. Statistically significant differences in illness representations were observed by ethnic group. Approximately 30% of the variance in illness representations was explained for whites, 23% for African Americans, and 26% for Puerto Ricans. The model accounted for >30% of the variance in acute visits for African Americans and Puerto Ricans but only 19% for the whites.


The model provides preliminary support that ethnic heterogeneity in asthma illness representations affects children’s health outcomes.