A growing number of older adults are afflicted with asthma; these older asthmatic individuals suffer more deleterious consequences as compared with younger asthmatic individuals. Asthma is a chronic condition requiring the person's ability to self-manage symptoms. Few educational programs have focused on older asthmatic adults' learning needs and even fewer on those of older minority individuals with this disease. Three focus groups were conducted in East Harlem. Each group consisted of 6 to 10 participants. All focus groups were led by the same coleaders and were conducted using the same semistructured format. Discussions were audio-taped and transcribed. Transcriptions were reviewed by two independent raters who determined major themes and concerns. Comparisons were made and discrepancies resolved through discussion and consensus with the team of investigators. In this pilot study, there were important similarities in the themes identified by participants in the 3 focus groups. Older individuals with asthma, their unlicensed caregivers, and health professionals all identified the following as important in the care of older adults who are asthmatic: (1) the negative impact of asthma on the individual's quality of life, (2) high cost of medications, (3) nonadherence to the medical regimen, and (4) difficulty that these individuals have in accessing the health care system.
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