The National Institute on Aging has awarded a $2.3 million grant to Barbara Polivka, PhD, Shirley B. Powers Endowed Chair in Nursing, University of Louisville School of Nursing, and her interdisciplinary team to study asthma. The focus of the study is to understand the personal and environmental influences of asthma in older adults. According to a Newswise news report, the researchers hope to recruit 190 asthma sufferers ages 60 years and older who are non-smokers and have no other lung diseases.
The researchers will gather information related to patient demographics, occupational exposures, health history, tobacco use, age at asthma onset and duration, medication profile, the presence of other diseases, and individual asthma-specific knowledge. A skin-allergy test as well as blood work and pulmonary function tests will be a part of the data collection process for each participant. During the 5-year study, the researchers will also measure chemical emissions from outdoor and common indoor materials and allergens linked to higher asthma risks.
Overall, the study will explore volatile organic compound (VOCs) exposure and asthma control in older adults, as noted on the Newswise news report.
Polivka states, “Asthma is a complicated health problem as it’s considered a collection of various characteristics verses a single disease. This study is novel because until now there has been no comprehensive measurement of the many biophysical factors, along with environmental exposures that impact asthma control and quality of life in older adults.”
Polivka adds, “As the population ages and the number of older adults with asthma in the United States increases to an estimated 4 million by 2030, the information from this study can be used to develop and test patient-centered interventions to help seniors with asthma better manage their symptoms, reduce trips to the emergency room and improve their overall well-being.”