How many people have an asthma action plan?

Many people with asthma do not have a current written asthma action plan although it is recommended in national guidelines.

A written asthma action plan, prepared for patients with asthma by a health care professional, can help people with asthma to manage their condition and reduce the severity of acute asthma flare-ups.

Asthma action plans have formed part of the National Asthma Council Australia's guidelines for the management of asthma for 24 years [6], and have been promoted in public education campaigns (including by the National Asthma Council Australia) on the basis that individualised written action plans reduce the risk of dying of asthma and improve asthma health outcomes [5].

In 2011–12, only 20% of people aged 15 and over, and 41% of children aged 0–14, with asthma had an asthma action plan (Figure 1), despite recommendations that every person with asthma have an asthma action plan (for more information see the recommendations here: Australian Asthma Handbook - action plans).

Across all ages, an estimated 542,000 people, that is 24% of people with asthma reported having a written asthma action plan, an increase from 16% in 2004–05 [2] and 21% in 2007–08 [3].

Among people with asthma, adults aged 25–44 were the least likely to have a written action plan (17%) [4]. Children aged 0–14 were the most likely to have a written asthma plan (41%), an increase from 26% in 2004–05 [2].

Figure 1: Proportion of people with asthma who have a written asthma action plan, by age, 2011–12

The vertical bar chart shows that in 2011–12, written asthma action plans were less common among adults aged 25–44 (17%25). Children aged 0–14 were the most likely to have a plan (41%25).

Note: Self-reported doctor-diagnosed current and long-term asthma.

Source: Australian Health Survey: Health Service Usage and Health Related Actions, 2011–12, Table 7 (Data table).


  1. Abramson MJ, Bailey MJ, Couper FJ, Driver JS, Drummer OH, Forbes AB et al.  2001. Are asthma medications and management related to deaths from asthma? American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. 163:12–18.
  2. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2006. Asthma in Ausralia: A Snapshot 2004–05. ABS Cat. no. 4819.0.55.001. Canberra: ABS.
  3. ABS 2009. National Health Survey: Summary of Results, 2007–08 (Reissue) (53KB XLS) . ABS cat. no. 4364.0. Canberra: ABS.
  4. ABS 2013. Australian Health Survey: Health Service Usage and Health Related Actions, 2011–12. Table 7. Asthma: Actions and medications taken. ABS cat. no. 4364.0.55.002. Canberra: ABS.
  5. National Asthma Council Australia 2016. Australian Asthma Handbook, Version 1.2. Melbourne: National Asthma Council Australia.
  6. National Asthma Campaign 1990. Asthma Management Plan. Melbourne: National Asthma Campaign.