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Int J Epidemiol. 1997 Feb;26(1):126-36.

The effect of season-of-response to ISAAC questions about asthma, rhinitis and eczema in children.

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Department of Community Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, New Zealand.



To examine whether responses to questions about the lifetime prevalence and 12-month period prevalence of symptoms of asthma and allergies are affected by the season in which the questions are asked.


The international Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) Phase One was undertaken in six New Zealand centres; in three centres the effect of season was studied. Over three school terms at least 3000 children were studied in each of two age groups per centre (6-7 years; 13-14 years), one-third in each term respectively. The ISAAC standardized written questionnaires were used to identify asthma, rhinitis and eczema symptoms. The written questionnaire in the younger age group was completed by the parent/guardian. The older age group self-completed the written questionnaire and also a video questionnaire about asthma symptoms.


The total number of respondents was 21,437, approximately half in each age group. The season of responding had no effect on the level of response to eczema questions. For the written asthma questionnaire no season-of-response effect was present for 6-7 year olds; for 13-14 year olds there was a trend to a higher rate of positive responses by those responding in winter, but in only one question did this reach statistical significance. With the video questionnaire there was a similar trend for a higher rate of positive responses when questions were asked in winter, but this did not reach statistical significance. For rhinitis symptoms there was a statistically significant season-of-response effect in both age groups with two questions; the fewest positive responses by the winter responders.


There was no significant effect of season-of-response to questions on eczema symptoms, and most questions on asthma symptoms. There was a season-of-response effect on responses to questions on rhinitis symptoms suggesting a recall bias relating to recency of symptoms.

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