4364.0.55.002 - Australian Health Survey: Health Service Usage and Health Related Actions, 2011-12  
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ASTHMA

Asthma is a respiratory condition causing episodes of wheezing, breathlessness and chest tightness due to the narrowing of the airways. Asthma can be treated using medication, and by taking actions such as managing lifestyle behaviours which can assist in avoiding and managing asthma attacks, and having a written asthma plan1.

In 2011-12, 10.2% of Australians (or around 2.3 million people) reported having asthma.

Of all people with asthma, 57.1% had consulted a GP in the last 12 months for their condition, 6.0% had consulted a specialist and 9.6% had consulted an other type of health professional. The most common types of other health professionals consulted were chemists for advice (5.9%), nurses (1.6%) and naturopaths (1.2%). Proportionally more females than males had consulted a GP for their asthma in the last 12 months (60.1% and 53.7% respectively).

Graph Image for Proportion of persons with asthma who saw a GP in last 12 months for their asthma, 2011-12


Of all people with asthma who were currently employed or studying/at school, 18.4% had time off work or study/school in the last 12 months due to their condition.

Around one in four people (26.5%) with asthma reported that their asthma had been worse or out of control in the last 12 months. Of these, 31.3% had visited a hospital or emergency department at least once in the last 12 months. Of all people with asthma, 34.0% reported that their condition had interfered with their daily activities at least once in the last 4 weeks.

It is recommended that people with asthma have a written action plan, to help recognise asthma triggers and patterns and advise them what steps to follow if their condition worsens. In 2011-12, around 1 in 4 people with asthma (24.0%) had a written asthma action plan.

The most common medications taken in the last 2 weeks by people with asthma were salbutamol (22.8%), a medication to prevent airway obstruction, 'salmeterol and other drugs for obstructive airway diseases' (10.9%), and 'formoterol and other drugs for obstructive airway diseases' (6.9%).

For more information see Table 7 Asthma: Actions and medications taken and Australian Health Survey: First Results, 2011-12 (cat. no. 4364.0.55.001).

1. Department of Health and Ageing, Sept 2010, Asthma, <http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/health-pq-asthma-index.htm>, Last accessed 22/03/2013.

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