The socio-economic burden of asthma is substantial in Europe

S. Accordini, A. Corsico, I. Cerveri, D. Gislason, A. Gulsvik, C. Janson, D. Jarvis, A. Marcon, I. Pin, P. Vermeire, E. Almar, M. Bugiani, L. Cazzoletti, E. Duran-Tauleria, R. Jõgi, A. Marinoni, J. Martínez-Moratalla, B. Leynaert, R. De Marco, U. Ackermann-LiebrichJ. M. Antó, P. Burney, S. Chinn, T. Gislason, J. Heinrich, J. Knox, N. Künzli, C. Luczynska, F. Neukirch, J. Schouten, J. Sunyer, C. Svanes, M. Wjst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Few data are available on the asthma burden in the general population. We evaluated the level and the factors associated with the asthma burden in Europe. Methods: In 1999-2002, 1152 adult asthmatics were identified in the European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS)-II and the socio-economic burden (reduced activity days and hospital services utilization in the past 12 months) was assessed. Results: The asthmatics with a light burden (only a few reduced activity days) were 13.2% (95% CI: 11.4-15.3%), whereas those with a heavy burden (many reduced activity days and/or hospital services utilization) were 14.0% (95% CI: 12.1-16.1%). The burden was strongly associated with disease severity and a lower quality of life. Obese asthmatics had a significantly increased risk of a light [relative risk ratio (RRR) = 2.17; 95% CI: 1.18-4.00] or a heavy burden (RRR = 2.77; 95% CI: 1.52-5.05) compared with normal/underweight subjects. The asthmatics with frequent respiratory symptoms showed a threefold (RRR = 2.74; 95% CI: 1.63-4.61) and sixfold (RRR = 5.76; 95% CI: 3.25-10.20) increased risk of a light or a heavy burden compared with asymptomatic asthmatics, respectively. Moreover, the lower the forced expiratory volume in 1 s % predicted, the higher the risk of a heavy burden. The coexistence with chronic cough/phlegm only increased the risk of a heavy burden (RRR = 1.88; 95% CI: 1.16-3.06). An interaction was found between gender and IgE sensitization, with nonatopic asthmatic females showing the highest risk of a heavy burden (21.6%; 95% CI: 16.9-27.1%). Conclusions: The asthma burden is substantial in Europe. A heavy burden is more common in asthmatics with obesity, frequent respiratory symptoms, low lung function, chronic cough/phlegm and in nonatopic females.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116-124
Number of pages9
JournalAllergy: European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2008


  • Asthma epidemiology
  • Burden of asthma
  • Burden, determinants
  • General population

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology


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