How does asthma affect quality of life?

Asthma is associated with poorer quality of life, with disease severity and the level of control both having an impact.

Asthma has varying degrees of impact on the physical, psychological and social wellbeing of people living with the condition. People with asthma are more likely to report a poor quality of life. This is more pronounced among people with severe or poorly controlled asthma [2,3].

Asthma is described as well-controlled when there are few symptoms and little reliever use (e.g. less than 3 days/week), and no night waking or limitation of activity. A 2012 survey of 2,686 Australians aged 16 years and older with current asthma found that asthma was not well-controlled in 45% of people with current asthma. More than half of this group were not using a preventer inhaler, or were using it infrequently.

In 2014–15, self-assessed health was, on average, worse among people with asthma, compared with people without the condition. People with asthma were less likely to report excellent health, and more likely to report fair or poor health [1].

Figure 1: Self-assessed health among people with and without asthma, ages 15+, 2014–15

The vertical bar chart shows that in 2014–15 self-reported health was lower in people with asthma compared to those without – people with asthma were more likely to report having fair or poor health (24%25) when compared to their non-asthmatic counterparts (13%25).

Note: Age-standardised to the 2001 Australian Standard population.

Source: AIHW analysis of ABS Microdata: National Health Survey (NHS) 2014–15 (Data table).


  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2016. National Health Survey: First Results, 2014–15. ABS Cat no. 4364.0.55.001. Canberra: ABS.
  2. Australian Centre for Asthma Monitoring (ACAM) 2004. Measuring the impact of asthma on quality of life in the Australian population. Cat. no. ACM 3. Canberra: AIHW.
  3. ACAM 2011. Asthma in Australia 2011: with a focus chapter on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Asthma series no. 4. Cat. no. ACM 22. Canberra: AIHW.
  4. Reddel HK, Sawyer SM, Everett PW, Flood PV, Peters MJ 2015. Asthma control in Australia: a cross-sectional web-based survey in a nationally representative population. Medical Journal of Australia 202:492–7.