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School Nurses' Role in Asthma Management, School Absenteeism, and Cost Savings: A Demonstration Project

Authors


  • This work was supported partly by grants from the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health and the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, Palo Alto, California. The sponsors had no role in the design and conduct of the study; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of the data; or in the preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript.

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND

With increasing budget cuts to education and social services, rigorous evaluation needs to document school nurses' impact on student health, academic outcomes, and district funding.

METHODS

Utilizing a quasi-experimental design, we evaluated outcomes in 4 schools with added full-time nurses and 5 matched schools with part-time nurses in the San Jose Unified School District. Student data and logistic regression models were used to examine predictors of illness-related absenteeism for 2006-2007 and 2008-2009. We calculated average daily attendance (ADA) funding and parent wages associated with an improvement in illness-related absenteeism. Utilizing parent surveys, we also estimated the cost of services for asthma-related visits to the emergency room (ER; N = 2489).

RESULTS

Children with asthma were more likely to be absent due to illness; however, mean absenteeism due to illness decreased when full-time nurses were added to demonstration schools but increased in comparison schools during 2008-2009, resulting in a potential savings of $48,518.62 in ADA funding (N = 6081). Parents in demonstration schools reported fewer ER visits, and the estimated savings in ER services and parent wages were significant.

CONCLUSION

Full-time school nurses play an important role in improving asthma management among students in underserved schools, which can impact school absenteeism and attendance-related economic costs.

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