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A cross-sectional study on asthma hospitalization rates and unhealthy air quality index frequency in Pennsylvania

Selker, Kristin (2017) A cross-sectional study on asthma hospitalization rates and unhealthy air quality index frequency in Pennsylvania. Master Essay, University of Pittsburgh.

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Asthma is a growing health concern in the United States. Air quality, obesity, smoking, and socioeconomic factors have been associated with increased pulmonary and cardiovascular health problems and have been specifically linked to asthma exacerbations. Not only does asthma affect a person’s ability to breathe properly, it negatively impacts our national, and local economies when it leads to hospitalization. To address asthma’s growing public health relevance this essay aims to evaluate the relationship between unhealthy air quality index (AQI) frequency, a novel measure, and age-adjusted asthma hospitalization rates by race for counties in Pennsylvania from 2007-2014 while accounting for confounding factors (smoking, obesity, high school education, and median income). We created a novel indicator of pollution levels, unhealthy AQI frequency, by taking the number of days that the AQI was at a level of 101-300 and dividing it by the number of days that an AQI was reported. This was done at the county level annually for 2007-2014 for 34-36 counties that had an air monitor. Age-adjusted rates for asthma hospitalizations by race were calculated and estimates of smoking, obesity, high school education, and median income were gathered. Our results showed Allegheny County as having the highest unhealthy AQI frequency for every year, however it did not have the highest hospitalization rates. We hypothesize that access to alternative medical facilities and care could be contributing to Allegheny county’s lower rates. A spatial lag regression model was run after determining that our variables of interest were spatially dependent. We found in 2013 that our dependent variable, unhealthy AQI frequency, was significantly related to white age-adjusted asthma hospitalization rate when controlling for smoking. For six of the eight annual models smoking was significantly related to hospitalizations when controlling for unhealthy AQI frequency (p


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Item Type: Other Thesis, Dissertation, or Long Paper (Master Essay)
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Selker, Kristinkrs168@pitt.eduKRS168
ContributionContributors NameEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairDiergaarde, Brendadiergaardeb@upmc.edubbd3UNSPECIFIED
Committee MemberTalbott, Evelyneot1@pitt.edueot1UNSPECIFIED
Committee MemberAaron, Barchowskyaab20@pitt.eduaab20UNSPECIFIED
Date: 25 April 2017
Date Type: Submission
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Epidemiology
Degree: MPH - Master of Public Health
Thesis Type: Master Essay
Refereed: Yes
Date Deposited: 10 Aug 2017 22:01
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2023 10:55


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