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Thorax. 2005 Sep;60(9):735-9.

Impact of asthma on self-reported health status and quality of life: a population based study of Australians aged 18-64.

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Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, P O Box M77, Missenden Road, Camperdown, NSW 2050, Australia.



The impact of asthma has traditionally been measured in terms of the prevalence of the disease, mortality rates, and levels of healthcare utilisation, particularly hospital admissions. However, the impact of asthma extends beyond these outcomes to include effects on lifestyle, well being, and perceived health status.


Information on self-reported current asthma status, arthritis and diabetes as well as measures of life satisfaction, self-assessed health status, psychological distress, and interference with usual activities was obtained for 14 641 respondents aged 18-64 years in the 2001 National Health Survey of the general population in all states and territories in Australia. Log linear models were fitted separately for each of the dichotomised quality of life measures as dependent variables. The estimates of the adjusted rate ratio obtained from each model were used to compute the population attributable fraction (PAF) of self-reported asthma, arthritis, and diabetes for each of the health status and quality of life measures.


The presence of asthma accounted for 3.18% (95% CI 2.13 to 4.23) of people reporting poor life satisfaction, 8.12% (95% CI 6.57 to 9.67) of people reporting poor health status, 5.90% (95% CI 4.19 to 7.61) of people reporting high psychological distress, and 3.58% (95% CI 2.16 to 5.01) of people reporting any reduced activity days. The proportions of people with these adverse health states attributable to asthma were higher than the proportions attributable to diabetes but lower than the proportions attributable to arthritis.


Asthma is an important contributor to the burden of ill health and impaired quality of life in the community. A strategic approach is needed to develop and implement strategies to address the impact of asthma on quality of life.

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