Asthma control in Australia
Asthma is a common chronic disease in Australia, affecting around one in nine Australians. It is a major cause of hospitalisations and can reduce a person’s quality of life and impede activities of daily living. It also presents a substantial cost, with $655 million being spent on asthma in 2008 – 09.
While asthma mortality has fallen over the past 30 years, death rates attributed to the condition remain high when compared to other countries. Asthma is also a substantial contributor to years lived with disability.
Effective asthma treatment, measured in symptom control and hospital avoidance are usually the key goals of treatment.
There are few data, however, on measures of asthma control in Australia so it’s not well known as to how well Australians are tracking. Some evidence indicates that there are problems in Australia relating to inappropriate prescribing and the underuse of preventer medications.
Researchers investigated the relationship between control of asthma symptoms, medication use and health care utilisation in Australians aged 16 years and over with asthma.
Participants completed a web-based survey that covered a variety of topics. These included basic demographic information, and asthma history, treatment and frequency of routine and emergency health care utilisation for asthma.
Asthma symptom control was assessed using a validated assessment tool, which rates from well controlled down to very poorly controlled. Participants also rated their overall health – from excellent through to poor – and their health literacy level.
22.7% rated as not well controlled and 23% as very poorly controlled. 44.2% of participants reporting very poorly controlled asthma reported one or more urgent GP visits in a previous year, compared to 12.5% of those who reported well-controlled asthma.
Furthermore, 17.8% of respondents with very poorly controlled asthma reported visiting an emergency department or hospital in the previous year compared to 6.5% with well controlled asthma. Adherence to inhaled treatment was found to be poor with 43% of people prescribed preventer medication reporting taking it fewer than five days a week.
These data provide a picture of asthma control, which is not good. Talk to your GP to get the recommendations from Australian guidelines and take control of your asthma so it doesn’t take control of you.
Last Reviewed: 25/11/2019
Norman Swan Medical Communications
Reddel, H et al. (2015). Asthma control in Australia: a cross-sectional web-based survey in a nationally representative population. MJA 202 (9) doi: 10.5694/mja14.01564.
Both children and adults get asthma, and while there is no cure, most people are able to control their symptoms by avoiding their triggers and taking medicines.
Asthma and pollen
Find out how pollen affects asthma, which plants typically cause allergies and how to minimise your exposure to pollen.
Can you overuse your blue asthma puffer?
The blue puffer - known as a reliever - should only be used when a person with asthma is wheezing and feeling tight. But many use it too often.
Asthma in children
Asthma is relatively common in children. Find out about the symptoms, causes, triggers, diagnosis and treatments.
Asthma and dairy foods
This special feature explores the asthma and dairy foods debate. Find out if milk is safe for your child with asthma.