Asthma is the most prevalent cause of childhood disability. Asthma contributes to over 14 million lost school days a year with the rate increasing. In 2008 Tarrant and surrounding counties were found to have high asthma prevalence rates for children, ranging from 12.3 to 19.0%, approximately double the national and state averages of 8.7% to 10.0%. This prevalence rate means that approximately 75,500 children in in Tarrant County have asthma. While asthma is not included in COPD, people with asthma may develop COPD over time, and effects approximately 5% of the US population. COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S., the only disease with an increasing death rate. In 2008, 31,042 hospital admissions for COPD was identified in Texas, with an average cost per visit of $2,416, an estimated range of inpatient costs in 2008 is $62 million – $93.1 million.
NIH and CDC recommend that in addition to the clinical setting where most management efforts are focused, alternative settings provide additional opportunities for management for asthma and COPD. However, this and many other related recommendations remain largely based on expert opinion, and are not backed by research. With the ability for research in the basic, clinical, and population-based research in the HSC and with the planned School of Pharmacy, UNTHSC is uniquely situated to become a leader in research to improve management of asthma and COPD in North Texas, Texas and the nation. Collaborative research between the School of Public Health and other UNTHSC schools that results in the development and implementation of effective, sustainable, evidence-based programs using rigorous methods will improve the ability for informed policy decisions at all levels.