The experience of Puerto Rican families who bring their children to the emergency department for asthma care

Date of Completion

January 2006


Health Sciences, Nursing|Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies




The aim of the study was to describe the experience of Puerto Rican families who brought their child to the emergency department (ED) for asthma care. ^ Asthma is the most common chronic pediatric disease, affecting 6.3 million children in the United States and accounting for 728,000 visits to the ED in the year 2000. Black and Hispanic children are frequent visitors; however Puerto Rican children use the services most often. The volume, patterns and populations of children who use the ED for asthma care have been extensively studied, although to date there are no known studies that have explored the ED experience for asthma care inductively from the perspective of Puerto Rican families. Understanding the experience of these families may shed light on why and how they utilize the ED for asthma care. ^ Using a qualitative method, the researcher conducted an in depth exploration of the ED experience. A hermeneutic phenomenological approach combined the use of descriptive and interpretive methods to explore the essence of the ED visit. English and Spanish speaking participants were recruited from an urban asthma clinic in the Northeast. Interviews were taped, transcribed and reviewed with each participant. In addition, a multidisciplinary panel reviewed the results to avoid bias and selective inattention. ^ Rich quotes about the toll asthma has taken on the families emerged during the analysis. Ten themes including "in awe of asthma" and "The folklore of asthma in Puerto Rican families" provided insight into the experience of families as they sought care for their child. Field notes from direct observation in the ED, clinic and neighborhoods enhanced the text. ^ The results illuminated the impact of asthma on the Puerto Rican families participating in the study. The interviews provided insight into the human experience associated with the published statistics about ED use in this population. ^