A chronic respiratory condition, asthma causes the airways to become inflamed and narrow in the presence of certain triggers. Most patients with the condition experience their first attacks and receive a diagnosis during childhood. Though the number of diagnoses continues to rise, science as a whole remains unsure as to the reason for the uptick, but recent research suggests that outcomes may be worse for patients from under-resourced backgrounds.
A study from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston followed close to 400 people with asthma diagnoses. Their results revealed that patients from households making less than $50,000 per year had less successful treatment outcomes, regardless of other contributing factors, such as stress levels and racial backgrounds. Researchers specify that while results do indicate that income levels appear to be a stand-alone risk factor for poor outcomes, nothing in the study suggests a causal relationship.
Some experts have linked these findings to another study from Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. There, researchers studied families with children who experience food allergies. They found that the lower-income families in their study spent 250 percent more on emergency care as compared to their more affluent counterparts, largely because they are able to invest less in specialist care and may be less able to keep their medications up to date.