Asthma disproportionately affects minority populations. Given the similar disparity experienced by minorities diagnosed with COVID-19, questions regarding factors that affect these disparities and the relationship between asthma and COVID-19 have been raised.
This study, published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, sought to answer these questions. Results from an anonymous questionnaire distributed to individuals with asthma showed that minorities had worse asthma control than their white counterparts and were simultaneously more likely to be affected by COVID-19.
Minorities experienced higher unemployment rates, more barriers to obtaining asthma medications, and lived in areas with a higher density of COVID-19 cases. Minorities were also more likely to have lost their health insurance as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Critically, minorities with asthma had the same health-seeking behaviors as their white counterparts, which implies a structural—and not cultural—barrier to positive health outcomes.
The researchers also distributed a questionnaire to physicians, which found that 28% of physician respondents faced more obstacles when caring for Black patients versus non-Black patients with asthma. Furthermore, nearly a quarter responded that it was more difficult to care for Black patients with asthma during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This study’s implications highlight the relevance of socioeconomic factors and institutional racism to adverse COVID-19 outcomes in minorities with asthma. When looking to reduce the inequity minorities with asthma face during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical to focus on these factors. Beneficial interventions could include funneling resources directly into these marginalized communities and enhancing anti-racism and implicit bias training for physicians .