Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Public Health

Major Professor

Dawood H. Sultan


Airway Inflammation, Exacerbation of breathlessness, Hyperreaction, Social Security Fund, Wheezing


Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease characterized by inflammation of the airway and the presence of recurrent attacks (exacerbations) of breathlessness, wheezing, cough, chest tightness, or some combination of these symptoms. In the US, about 53% of people with asthma had an asthma attack in 2008, and 57% of these, were children. One in ten children (10%) had asthma in 2009, and boys were more likely than girls to have asthma. Internationally, the prevalence of asthma varies widely in different countries, but the disparity is narrowing due to rising prevalence in low and middle income countries. Unfortunately, we do not have statistics for asthma in the Republic of Panama, neither epidemiological data nor costs, which is the reason why this research is needed.

The Panamanian Social Security Fund (CSS) provides protection to workers, their immediate families and the pensioned. By the end of 2010, the total insured population was 2,862,202 (83% of the total population of Panama). Of the total insured population 58% were dependent. Of this, 1,205,607 (42%) were children. On the basis of this information, we decided to develop the research study using information from the CSS, specifically in the Hospital de Especialidades Pediatricas (HEPOTH). It is the only tertiary level of healthcare children's hospital of the CSS.

A quantitative-descriptive design was used to develop this study. Data was collected from medical records of patients diagnosed with asthma in the HEPOTH from January to June 2012. We reviewed the medical records of each care area by month, and numbered each clinical record of children diagnosed with asthma in crisis and randomly selected 10% of the medical records from a minimum of 2000 records. Information on treatment costs was also obtained. Once all the information was collected, it was typed in the digital data log created for this study and the responses were code converted and the information was entered into a database. The data were exported to IBM SPSS Statistics 21.

The average cost of asthma attacks in Panama is estimated at $205.52. We were able to confirm that there are variations in this average by gender, age, geographic area of residence, season, severity, whether treated in the emergency department or hospitalization, and the type of treatment received. It was also possible to obtain secondary information about the epidemiology of asthma that allowed us to confirm that our statistics matched international statistics.

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