Integrating asthma management and care in Maryland Head Start Programs: A qualitative assessment of opportunities and needs

Elizabeth Ruvalcaba, Jennifer Callaghan-Koru, Cynthia S. Rand, Michelle N. Eakin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To understand the role of Maryland Head Start (HS) programs in asthma care and identify resources and needs to improve health outcomes. Methods: A qualitative needs assessment was conducted with Maryland HS staff (n = 35) and parents/caregivers of enrolled children with asthma (n = 16) from all 14 grantee programs in Maryland. Focus group discussions and interviews addressed strengths and challenges in current asthma control and opportunities for integration of an asthma care program into HS services. Transcripts were thematically analyzed using a modified Framework approach. Results: HS programs actively communicate with families about asthma management and facilitate communication between families and primary care providers (PCPs). Both HS staff and families reported a strong trusting relationship allowing HS staff to provide asthma management support. HS needs strong linkages with supportive services and PCP offices to engage families, address environmental triggers, and educate staff. While families across the state report interest in peer education on asthma through HS, there were some region-specific asthma care barriers for urban and rural programs. Conclusion: This needs assessment confirmed interest among all stakeholders in integrating asthma care through HS and identified communication strategies, supportive infrastructure, and addressing regional access to care as key elements for program design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101684
JournalEvaluation and Program Planning
StatePublished - Dec 2019


  • Asthma
  • Care
  • Children
  • Chronic
  • Education
  • Family
  • Head Start
  • Management
  • Maryland
  • Needs assessment
  • Opportunities
  • Pediatric
  • Preschool
  • Qualitative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Social Psychology
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Strategy and Management
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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