NEA-funded research grant to address care disparities for children with eczema

Eczema Awareness Month

By Kathryn Jones

Published On: Aug 27, 2020

Last Updated On: Sep 21, 2020

NEA teamed up with the Pediatric Dermatology Research Alliance (PeDRA) this year to develop the Childhood Eczema Challenge Grant with the aim of accelerating research that improves the health and quality of life of pediatric eczema patients and their families.

Nearly 10 million U.S children under the age of 18 are affected by eczema, with one-third affected by moderate-to-severe disease. Despite recent therapeutic advances, the burdens on these patients and their families can be significant, and many important research questions remain unanswered.

The $50,000 grant was awarded in August to Junko Takeshita, MD, PhD, MSCE of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine for her grant proposal titled “Understanding Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Health Care Utilization for Childhood Atopic Dermatitis.”

Researchers have previously found that atopic dermatitis (AD) disproportionately affects Black and Hispanic children and is associated with significant financial burden in the U.S.

“Atopic dermatitis is a skin disease that, for the most part, should be feasibly managed in an outpatient setting. Yet, our previous work shows that, compared to white children, Black and Hispanic children are more likely to go to the Emergency Room for urgent or emergent care of their skin disease if they are even seeking care for their AD, and Black children are less likely to seek any healthcare for their AD. Both of these healthcare utilization patterns suggest suboptimal outpatient medical care for minority children with AD,” said Takeshita. 

“With our study, I am hoping to identify the reasons for these different health care utilization patterns for atopic dermatitis, specifically among Black and Hispanic children.”

For this grant, Takeshita aims to identify and understand the barriers to outpatient health care use and reasons for specific health care utilization patterns, especially emergency room use, for AD among white, Black and Hispanic children from the caregiver perspective.

The qualitative study will include interviews with caregivers of white, Black, and Hispanic children with AD across a spectrum of health care use patterns. The findings will directly inform the development and implementation of future interventions to reduce racial/ethnic disparities in healthcare use for childhood AD, optimize care utilization and improve outcomes.

“I anticipate that the different healthcare utilization patterns are not simply due to healthcare access-related challenges and that future interventions to optimize care for children with AD will require a multi-pronged approach that may need to also address, for example, different perceptions of the value of healthcare in different settings and differences in social and financial resources that may affect healthcare use for AD,” Takeshita said.

“Ultimately, using the new knowledge we will gain from this study, we hope to develop effective interventions aimed at reducing disparities in healthcare use for AD among Black and Hispanic children, and ultimately, improving outcomes for these groups of children with AD.”

“Dr. Takeshita’s work is a perfect example of why we collaborated with PeDRA to create this grant,” said Julie Block, president and CEO of NEA. “We know the burden for children with eczema and their families can be enormous, and this new research has potential to relieve some burden from those who feel it most acutely.”