Children with asthma who live in housing that relies on the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) rental assistance programs are less likely to be admitted to the emergency department (ED) for treatment, according to study results published in JAMA Pediatrics.
Data from the National Health Interview Survey linked to administrative housing assistance records between 1999 and 2014 were used for this survey. Specifically, researchers examined data of 2992 children between aged 0 and 17 years who lived with families that either received rental assistance or would enter a rental assistance program within a 2-year period of survey interview.
The researchers examined overall participation in the HUD programs as well as participation in public or multifamily housing vs participation in housing choice vouchers. Additionally, the incidence rate of asthma diagnosis, 12-month history of asthma attack, and 12-month history of an ED visit for asthma treatment were assessed.
Participation in a rental assistance program was associated with an 18.2 percentage-point (95% CI, -29.7 to -6.6) reduction in ED use for asthma treatment in children with an asthma attack in the past year. While there were significant results for participation in public or multifamily housing (percentage point change, -36.6; 95% CI, -54.8 to -18.4; P =.02 for interaction), there was no such difference in the use of housing choice vouchers (percentage point change, -7.2; 95% CI, -24.6 to 10.3). Participation in housing rental assistance did not appear to be associated with changes in asthma attacks (percentage point change, -2.7; 95% CI, -12.3 to 7.0 percentage points).
A limitation of the study was the inclusion of data that extended to 1999, which may not generalizable to present HUD rental assistance programs.
The researchers wrote that their “estimates suggest that rental assistance may be associated with health care system savings.”
Boudreaux M, Fenelon A, Slopen N, Newman SJ. Association of childhood asthma with federal rental assistance [published online March 9, 2020]. JAMA Pediatr. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.6242