Hassenfeld Child Health Innovation Institute


Building a national and international model of what can be achieved in pediatric asthma outcomes.

This initiative began in 2016 and is led by Dr. Daphne Koinis Mitchell and Dr. Elizabeth McQuaid. Approximately 9% of children in the U.S. have asthma. When asthma is poorly controlled, it can affect all aspects of children’s functioning. The burden of asthma for children residing in urban areas, such as Greater Providence, is concerning: 25-50% of children in some urban school districts have asthma. Thus, it is important to map high risk areas and chart the factors that lead to an increased risk of asthma outcomes. There exist several multi-level factors (biological, sociocultural, environmental, familial/cultural) that contribute to disparities in pediatric asthma outcomes and thus identifying these can inform better asthma programs and reduce the prevalence and risk of asthma outcomes. The overarching goals of the Asthma Initiative are to improve the health of children with asthma, make the communities we serve among the world’s healthiest places for children with asthma, address the issue of poverty and how it affects asthma risk and finally, serve as a national and international model of what can be achieved in pediatric asthma outcomes.

Key Projects

1. Asthma Birth Cohort (ABC) Study 

This project identifies mechanisms underlying the associations between stress exposure in pregnant mothers and the development of asthma in their children. 

2. Children with Asthma in their Real Environments (Project CARE)

This project involves the examination of real-time associations among biomarkers relevant to asthma, asthma clinical indicators and behavioral factors to understand the mechanisms underlying disparities in asthma outcomes in high risk groups of children. 

3. RI-AIR (Rhode Island Asthma Integrated Response) Program

The RI-AIR initiative involves the development, implementation, and evaluation of an integrated identification, screening, and referral network for children with asthma in Rhode Island.

4. Medicaid Asthma “Hot Spot” Analysis

This project identifies geographic hot spots for asthma and other environmentally-mediated health conditions and examines neighborhood characteristics associated with asthma and other environmentally-mediated health conditions. 

5. Evaluation of the Efficacy of Rhode Island’s Home Asthma Response Program (HARP)

This project evaluates the efficacy of the Home Asthma Response Program (HARP), an evidence-based asthma intervention designed to reduce preventable asthma emergency department visits and hospitalizations among high risk pediatric asthma patients. 

6. Neighborhood Risk and Pediatric Asthma Hospital Use

This project evaluates neighborhood risk and pediatric asthma hospital use, utilizing ten years of data from the Lifespan Health System.

When the coronavirus pandemic forced schools to shut down and businesses to send employees home in March, the Hassenfeld Institute’s Asthma Initiative team knew they had to act quickly to continue to provide services to children with asthma and their families.
Read Article
People are suffering now, in Rhode Island as across the nation, according to Gregory Wellenius, director of the Brown University Center for Environmental Health and Technology, associate professor of epidemiology at Brown's School of Public Health, and a contributing author to the landmark Fourth National Climate Assessment, which warns that “human health and safety … in communities across the U.S. are increasingly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change."
Read Article
An $8 million grant to Rhode Island Hospital will allow two Warren Alpert Medical School and Hassenfeld Child Health Innovation Institute pediatric psychologists to develop a community-based program to address disparities in asthma outcomes in children.
Read Article