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DHS news release

June 25, 2007

General contact: Bonnie Widerburg, 971-673-1282
Technical contact: Tracy Carver, 971-673-1103

Portland conference to address asthma care, health disparities

Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases, affecting 10 percent of Oregon adults and eight percent of Oregon children. Although asthma can be managed, research shows that people living at the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum are more likely to have poorer health outcomes.

Factors contributing to asthma and health disparities among lower income individuals and members of certain racial and ethnic groups will be the theme of a July 10 Portland conference called "Asthma Disparities: Moving from Data to Action." Health care professionals, people with asthma and their caregivers, and members of community organizations are invited to attend.

The conference opens at 8 a.m. July 10 at the Holiday Inn Convention Center at 1441 N.E. Second Avenue in Portland. The registration fee is $15. Complete information and online registration is available on the Oregon Asthma Network W​eb site. The Oregon Asthma Network and the Oregon Department of Human Services Public Health Division are sponsoring the event.

Fourteen percent of people living in Oregon households with less than a $25,000 annual income have asthma. Twenty-two percent of Oregonians on Medicaid have asthma. In comparison, 8.5 percent of people in households with annual incomes of more than $25,000 a year have asthma.

Asthma also has a greater impact on some racial and ethnic groups. More than 16 percent of non-Hispanic Blacks and 15 percent of American Indians/Alaska natives have asthma. Conversely, only 10 percent of non-Hispanic Whites and 5 percent of Hispanics have asthma.

Barry Weiss, M.D., professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine will deliver the keynote address, "Health literacy: A hidden risk factor in asthma management." Weiss is well known in the field of health literacy and patient-physician communication.

The plenary session is an update on the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program's Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma, presented by James Stout, M.D., M.P.H., Professor of Pediatrics and Adjunct Professor of Health Services at the University of Washington.

Morning and afternoon breakout sessions will offer strategies and resources for addressing asthma disparities, along with ideas on how health systems and community organizations can support people affected by health disparities. Topics include patient-centered care, addressing indoor air quality, working with people in poverty and cultural competency in health care.

Helping to improve the quality of life for Oregonians with asthma is one of many public health programs within DHS that focus on prevention and helping people manage their health so they can be as productive and healthy as possible. Information on asthma and the statewide efforts under way to improve treatment can be found on the DHS asthma Web site.