Date of Award

Spring 5-17-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Sheryl M. Strasser, PhD

Second Advisor

Erin E. Ruel, PhD


Background: Asthma is a chronic illness that affects people of all age groups. Approximately 12% and 9% of children and adults, respectively, have asthma in Georgia. Asthma affects groups of people differently, with African Americans being twice as likely to be hospitalized for asthma. Hospitalizations related to asthma cost Georgians over $100 million dollars. The symptoms of coughing and wheezing can have a detrimental effect on the productivity of the asthmatic as well as lead to exorbitant medical costs for the asthmatic. This study examines the associations between known risk factors and asthma prevalence in a displaced housing population in Atlanta, GA.

Methods: Researchers recruited residents of former public housing communities BEFORE/ AFTER demolishment. Data were collected by interview by research staff supported by the Georgia State University Partnership for Urban Health Research Center. The second set of interviews were collected from the same sample population, no additional recruiting was done. This second cross-sectional wave (out of 4 total) of interviews is the data source analyzed in this study. Chi-square tests were run to examine associations of risk factors with having an asthma diagnosis within the last 12 months.

Results: There were 310 complete interviews obtained with public housing residents during the second wave of data collection. Results showed that 13% (n= 40) of respondents reported an asthma diagnosis within the last 12 months. Chi-square analyses demonstrated statistically significant associations between the following variables: Presence of Leaky Roof, Presence of Mice and Rats, and Going Without Necessary Medication.

Conclusions: Results of this study reveal important relationships between risk factors associated with asthma among public housing residents recently displaced from their communities. Risk factors representative of individual, interpersonal, and community levels of influence demonstrate clear associations with asthma for this vulnerable population. Continued investigation on the predictive value of risk factors related to asthma among residents of public housing communities is warranted. Deepening understanding of how a person, the environment, and their behaviors are connected will inform more sensitive public housing decisions—that ultimately, hold the promise of improving asthma prevalence, maintenance, and outcomes for the 1,000s of sufferers in Georgia alone.