Background: In epidemiological studies, continuous measures of asthma severity should be used to catch the heterogeneity of phenotypes. This study aimed at developing and validating continuous measures of asthma severity in adult patients with ever asthma from the general population, to be used in epidemiological studies. Methods: Respiratory symptoms, anti-asthmatic treatment and lung function were measured on 520 patients with ever asthma aged 20-64 years from the general Italian population (GEIRD study; 2007/2010). The variables that represent the same dimension of asthma severity were identified through an exploratory factor analysis and were summarized through a multiple factor analysis. Results: Only respiratory symptoms and anti-asthmatic treatment were summarized in a continuous score (STS). STS ranges from 0 (no symptoms/treatment) to 10 (maximum symptom frequency and treatment intensity). STS was positively correlated with the Global Initiative for Asthma classification of asthma severity computed on the 137 cases with a doctor's diagnosis (Spearman's coefficient = 0.61, p-value<0.0001) (concurrent validity). Furthermore, using a cohort of 1,097 European asthmatics (ECRHS II study; 1999/2002), increasing STS levels at baseline (1991/1993) were positively associated with long-term outcomes (hospitalization and lost workdays for breathing problems, asthma attack frequency and use of asthma controllers) (predictive validity). Finally, the STS scores computed from the GEIRD and ECRHS II data were comparable (Lin's coefficient = 0.95, p-value<0.0001) (replication analysis). Conclusions: STS is a valid and replicable measure of asthma severity in adults, which could be used in association studies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)