In 2010 in the United States, over 25.7 million people currently had asthma (1 in 8 Americans), including an estimated 7 million of children and 18.7 million of adults. Nationally, the prevalence of asthma has been increasing since 1980 across all age, sex, and racial groups. In Massachusetts, the prevalence of asthma is among the highest reported for states across the nation.
In 2014, the Massachusetts Asthma Prevention and Control Program (APCP) received a new five-year grant award from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Asthma Control Program building on previous funding cycles. The CDC grant supports the APCP to conduct program evaluation activities, including developing a comprehensive, five-year evaluation plan, as well as development and implementation of evaluation plans for specific program initiatives. Since 2010, MDPH has contracted JSI to assist in conducting these evaluation activities, which are to align closely with the Program's goals. JSI is collaborating closely with APCP and stakeholders as a team throughout the evaluation process to ensure an utilization-focused evaluation following the framework outlined in the CDC Learning and Growing through Evaluation: State Asthma Program Evaluation Guide.
Among evaluations conducted to date has been of the DPH-funded Asthma Disparities Initiative, that won the 2014 Evaluation Award from the CDC National Asthma Program. Through the Initiative community health centers (CHC) implement clinical improvements to better serve children in high risk families, including adding community health workers (CHWs) to their asthma care teams, enabling home visits for asthma self-management education and addressing domestic asthma trigger factors. Clinics also worked with local asthma coalitions to expand community outreach and generate systems change to improve home, school, workplace and community environments. JSI also assessed the statewide infrastructure available to support CHWs in order to prepare for their increasingly important roles in community health centers under healthcare reform. This evaluation identifies needs and opportunities to advance their training, licensure, and supervision in preparation for service-reimbursement by insurers. Under the new 5-year grant JSI is: providing evaluation support for a new asthma learning collaborative engaging community and healthcare organizations that are implementing innovative asthma initiatives under healthcare reform, strengthening CHW training programs, and assessing standardized asthma home-based visiting protocols.