Fewer Aussies being hospitalised for asthma

Fewer asthma sufferers are ending up in hospital than a decade ago, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Asthma hospitalisations in Australia 2010-11, shows that hospitalisation rates fell by 33% for children and 45% for adults between 1998­-99 and 2010-11.

AIHW spokesperson Louise York said Australia has one of the lowest asthma hospitalisation rates in the world and that several factors could be contributing to the decline.

'There are a range of contributing factors which may be at work here, including a modest decrease in the prevalence or number of cases of asthma over this time (from 11.6% in 2001 to 10.2% in 2011-12), improvements in the preventive management of asthma, availability of more effective out-of-hospital management of disease exacerbations, changes in hospital admission practices or a drop in the severity of asthma over this period. It is not possible to attribute the observed trend to any of these factors with certainty.'

Ms York said while the hospitalisation rate was low, it varied across population groups in Australia.

'Children are hospitalised at 5 times the rate of adults, although adults (those aged 15 or more years) stay in hospital for longer-about 3 days compared with 1.5 days for children,' Ms York said.

'Children aged under 5 had the highest rate of hospitalisations overall, with boys in this age group much more likely to be hospitalised than girls.'

Boys were also hospitalised at a higher rate than girls in the 5-14 age group, but in older age groups the trend reversed, with higher rates for females than males aged over 15.

'This result is consistent with the higher prevalence of asthma among boys than girls and among women than men,' Ms York said.

Indigenous Australians were 2.1 times as likely to be hospitalised for asthma as other Australians.

The asthma hospitalisation rate was 1.5 times as high for people living in areas of greater socioeconomic disadvantage compared to those living in areas of lower socioeconomic disadvantage.

In total, there were 37,830 hospitalisations for asthma in Australia in 2010­-11.

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, 11 September 2013

Further information: Louise York, AIHW, tel. (02) 6144 1271, mob. 0418 271 395