Asthma and COPD hospitalisation rates higher in inland and rural areas

Hospitalisation rates for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) were higher in inland and rural areas of Australia in 2007-10, according to a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Geographic distribution of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease hospitalisations in Australia: 2007-08 to 2009-10, shows that asthma hospitalisation rates were also higher in some Queensland coastal areas, in the south-east corner of South Australia and in the southern part of Western Australia.

For COPD, higher hospitalisation rates are seen in much of the Northern Territory and the north-west corner of Western Australia.

The report analyses the association between hospitalisation rates for asthma and COPD and factors such as socioeconomic status, remoteness and the proportion of Indigenous Australians in different locations across Australia.

'Socioeconomic status was found to be a significant explanation for the variation in hospitalisations for both asthma and COPD across geographical areas of Australia,' said AIHW spokesperson Nigel Harding.

The degree of remoteness and the proportion of the population who identified as Indigenous Australians also explained some of the variation in hospitalisations, but to a lesser extent.

'There are many other reasons why asthma and COPD hospitalisation rates may be high in particular areas, including local smoking rates, the prevalence of other health conditions, and issues related to access to health care services, which can increase the likelihood of hospitalisation,' Mr Harding said.

Environmental factors such as air pollution or the presence of allergic triggers may also play a role, but were not analysed in this report.

'We hope to explore these other explanatory factors in the future.'

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

Canberra, 26 March 2013

Further information: Mr Nigel Harding, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1025 mob. 0409 307 671

For media copies of the report: 02 6249 5048/02 6249 5033 or email [email protected].