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Association of school infrastructure on health and achievement among children with asthma

Published:October 19, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.acap.2022.10.007

      Abstract

      Objective

      : To determine whether school infrastructure is associated with health and academic outcomes among elementary school children with asthma.

      Methods

      : We conducted a retrospective cohort study of linked medical, academic, and facilities data from a large mid-Atlantic school district of the United States. All K—5 students with asthma who were enrolled under the state's Children's Health Insurance Program were included. We estimated associations of the infrastructure quality of the student's school, as assessed by an engineering firm in Summer 2011 and represented by the Facility Condition Index (FCI), with asthma health outcomes, absenteeism, and standardized test scores in math and reading in the two academic years thereafter.

      Results

      : 6,558 students were identified, the majority non-Hispanic Black, across 130 schools. Most schools (97/130, 75%) were in very poor or worse condition. In cluster-adjusted models accounting for demographics, grade, school-specific area deprivation, and inhaled corticosteroid use, a one standard deviation increase in FCI, corresponding to greater infrastructure deficiency, was associated with higher rates of asthma-related hospitalizations (incidence rate ratio [IRR] 1.16; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.03, 1.32), more absenteeism (IRR 1.05; 95% CI 1.01, 1.08), and lower scores in math (mean difference [MD] –3.3; 95% CI –5.5, –1.2) and reading (MD –3.0; 95% CI –5.1, –0.9). There were no differences in rates of asthma-related emergency visits or steroid prescriptions.

      Conclusions

      : Children with asthma attending schools with poorer infrastructure had worse health and academic outcomes. Public policy emphasizing reinvestment in school infrastructure may be a potential means of addressing asthma disparities.

      Keywords

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