Media advisory: Buffalo teens with asthma teach each other how to best manage their disease

Do teens with asthma learn more about the disease from their peers than from adults? This weekend, UB researchers aim to find out

Release Date: June 10, 2016

Laurene Tumiel-Berhalter.
“About a quarter of children living in Buffalo have asthma and they utilize health care at higher rates than in other regions in New York State.”
Laurene Tumiel-Berhalter, associate professor in the UB Department of Family Medicine and co-investigator on PLASMA

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Some Buffalo teens are headed to camp this weekend, but it’s not your typical summer camp. Instead, 60 inner-city middle and high school students will spend June 11-12 at the Nor-Ton Red Jacket Club in North Tonawanda to learn how to better manage their asthma. The camp runs from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The program, called PeerLed Asthma Self-Management for Adolescents (PLASMA), is led by researchers at the University of Rochester School of Nursing in collaboration with the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo.  The purpose is to learn whether peer leaders who are 16-20 years old and who have well-controlled asthma will have a greater impact on getting campers with persistent and uncontrolled asthma to manage their disease than adult educators.

Media are invited to attend. Press arrangements: Marcene Robinson at 716-645-4595 or contact Danielle Abramo on-site.

“About a quarter of children living in Buffalo have asthma and they utilize health care at higher rates than in other regions in New York State,” said Laurene Tumiel-Berhalter, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine at UB and co-investigator on PLASMA.

She noted that emergency department visits are disproportionately high in Buffalo and hospitalization rates for children in Buffalo with asthma are among New York’s highest.

“PLASMA is the first peer-led asthma training program specifically designed for adolescents,” said Danielle Abramo, community recruitment liaison at the Clinical and Translational Research Center of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “The program uses peer leaders with asthma who live in the same community to teach teens how best to manage their disease.”

The first Buffalo session of PLASMA was held in September 2015 and succeeded in reducing emergency department utilization among participants from 35 percent before they attended PLASMA to 21 percent afterward.

“This is a strong sign that the program is promising and that it has had a lasting effect on attendees,” said Abramo. “Even more promising is that the kids like camp so much, many of them ask if they can attend again.”

The camp mixes asthma education with fun activities, including arts and crafts, kickball, yoga and games. Breakfast, lunch and snacks are served.

Teens were recruited from the city of Buffalo, primarily the most underserved zip codes, and a few are from nearby suburbs.

After camp, participants are contacted bi-monthly to keep them engaged and see how they are doing, Abramo explained. They also will be asked to complete surveys every three months for more than a year to assess how they are controlling their asthma and to gauge if the education they received at camp is still helping them.

The project is funded by the National Institutes of Health National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Media Contact Information

Marcene Robinson
News Content Manager
Dental Medicine, Libraries, Nursing, Pharmacy

Tel: 716-645-4595