Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2020) Asthma, associated comorbidities and risk factors, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 04 February 2023.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2020). Asthma, associated comorbidities and risk factors. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/chronic-respiratory-conditions/asthma-associated-comorbidities-risk-factors
Asthma, associated comorbidities and risk factors. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 25 August 2020, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/chronic-respiratory-conditions/asthma-associated-comorbidities-risk-factors
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Asthma, associated comorbidities and risk factors [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2020 [cited 2023 Feb. 4]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/chronic-respiratory-conditions/asthma-associated-comorbidities-risk-factors
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2020, Asthma, associated comorbidities and risk factors, viewed 4 February 2023, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/chronic-respiratory-conditions/asthma-associated-comorbidities-risk-factors
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An estimated 2.7 million Australians (11% of the total population) currently have asthma, based on self-reported data from the 2017–18 National Health Survey (ABS 2018a). Of these, around 1.6 million people (6.6% of the total population) also had one or more of the following selected chronic conditions:
These 9 chronic conditions have been selected because they are common in the general community, pose significant health problems, have been the focus of ongoing national surveillance efforts, and action can be taken to prevent their occurrence.
Asthma affects people of all ages; however, many of the people with asthma and comorbid conditions are older Australians, reflecting the fact that chronic conditions are more widespread in older age groups.
Additional chronic conditions that are commonly found in people with asthma, and that can impact on asthma, include allergic rhinitis, obstructive sleep apnoea, mental illness, nasal polyps (soft, painless, non-cancerous growths) and gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) (AIHW 2019).
For all persons who had asthma, 41% had only asthma with none of the other selected chronic conditions, while 59% had at least one of the nine other selected chronic conditions (ABS 2018a). Of those aged 45 and over who had asthma, 20% had asthma only, and 81% had at least one other of the selected 9 chronic conditions (Figure 1). Over 1 in 4 (27%) had one other selected chronic condition, and 54% had 2 or more other selected chronic conditions.
Source: ABS 2019 (Data table).
Among people aged 45 and over with asthma:
The National Health Survey (NHS) uses three factors to determine whether or not a person is counted as having a particular condition: whether the condition is current, whether it is long term and whether it was medically diagnosed. The combination of these factors required for a person to count as having the condition varies according to the nature of the condition. For example, some conditions, such as diabetes and HSVD, once diagnosed, are seen to be lifelong. Even if a person no longer reports symptoms, they still count as having the condition. While other conditions, such as depression, asthma, cancer or back problems, can be lifelong, episodic or in complete remission.
Most conditions do not need the respondent to have been diagnosed by a doctor or nurse. The respondent is counted if they said they have the condition. However, in cases where the respondent said they had diabetes or HSVD and that the condition was not current, they need to have received a diagnosis to be counted.
Has the condition been diagnosed by a doctor or nurse?
no diagnosis required
not long term
Heart, stroke and vascular disease (HSVD)
Mental and behavioural conditions
Note: Please see the 2017–18 NHS User Guide for more information on the definitions of the conditions.
ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2018a. National Health Survey: First Results,
2017–18. ABS Cat. no. 4364.0.55.001. Canberra: ABS.
ABS 2018b. National Health Survey: Users’ Guide, 2017–18. Viewed 1 May 2019.
ABS 2019. Microdata: National Health Survey, 2017–18, detailed microdata, DataLab. ABS cat no. 4324.0.55.001. Canberra: ABS. Findings based on AIHW analysis of ABS microdata.
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