"We're on a mission to eliminate asthma death and suffering in the United States. It's a goal that is long overdue."
Nancy Sander, Former President and Founder, Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (McLean, VA)
Nancy Sander explains how volunteers trained by the Allergy and Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics focused on empowering patients and families to manage asthma.
The Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA) launched its Great American Asthma Challenge (GAAC): Real Strategies for Living and Breathing the NIH Guidelines program in urban neighborhoods in Baltimore, MD, Chicago, IL, and Richmond, VA. GAAC enlisted patients and their families in a self-paced pilot asthma education and empowerment program facilitated by AANMA's trained volunteer Outreach Service Coordinators.
Nancy Sander (center), AANMA, discusses GAAC at a NACI meeting in Baltimore, MD.
AANMA's Outreach Service Coordinators contacted GAAC participants periodically to help them understand their asthma action plans, supplied them with educational materials, and offered them support and encouragement. Patients and families also had access to assistance through AANMA's toll-free Patient Support Center, staffed by a nurse educator.
To identify and recruit GAAC participants, AANMA's Outreach Service Coordinators (OSCs) reached out to local health care providers, public health departments, asthma coalitions, schools, childcare centers, community health centers and faith-based organizations. The OSCs also participated in community events to build awareness of the project and additional resources available to help control asthma.
AANMA plans to use the lessons learned from this pilot project, which tested the concept, components, and implementation of a grassroots self-paced intervention at the local level, to make further refinements to GAAC. For example, the complexity of the original program, with its multiple steps, modules and activities, led some potential participants to walk away. To reduce this barrier, AANMA simplified the process by providing all program materials at the initial point of contact, allowing OSCs to explain to participants each step and to answer questions as they arose. With this change, AANMA was able increase the number of people willing to participate in the program.
Expand the reach of the EPR-3 guidelines and six priority messages to patients who have asthma and their families in Baltimore, MD, Chicago, IL, and Richmond, VA.
Recruit and train volunteer Outreach Service Coordinators to engage patients and families in GAAC.
Create GAAC welcome materials and an updated AANMA Asthma Organizer.
Recruit patients, families and other members of the community to participate in the GAAC program through volunteer outreach activities.
Reach out to medical professional and community contacts to introduce the GAAC program and invite participation.
Challenges & Solutions
Challenge: Recruit volunteers. AANMA initially found it difficult to engage volunteers to help pilot the GAAC program. Potential volunteers expressed concerns about the length of commitment expected and the project's complexity.
Solution: Refine recruitment strategy. AANMA fine-tuned its approach by addressing the specific concerns expressed by potential volunteers. It assured them that they would receive ongoing guidance, training, and support through both the project team and AANMA's Patient Support Center. The Patient Support Center, staffed by a nurse educator, served as an ongoing resource for patients, family members, and volunteers.
AANMA recruited 267 individuals and families into the GAAC program.
Valerie Nozea, RRT, AE-C, AANMA Outreach Service Coordinator, Baltimore, MD.
AANMA shared and collaborated with additional National Asthma Control Initiative (NACI)-funded projects to advance asthma care best practices. For example:
AANMA's materials for patients, families, and clinicians are included as resources in toolkits developed by the National Medical Association, a NACI Strategic Partner, and the South Bronx Asthma Partnership/Bronx-Lebanon Hospital, a NACI Clinical Champion.
To help meet its project goals, AANMA used trained volunteers to provide asthma education materials and to offer follow-up support via telephone to patients with asthma and their families.
Other NACI-funded projects using AANMA-type approaches are: