4364.0.55.001 - National Health Survey: First Results, 2014-15  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 08/12/2015   
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Asthma is a respiratory condition affecting the airways of the lungs, causing episodes of wheezing, breathlessness and chest tightness due to the narrowing of the airways[1]. Asthma may affect people of all ages and can usually be managed through treatment such as medication use, managing lifestyle behaviours which can assist in avoiding and managing asthma attacks, and having a written asthma plan[2].

In 2014-15, 10.8% of Australians (2.5 million people) had asthma. The prevalence of asthma has increased since 2007-08 (9.9%).

Overall, females had higher rates of asthma than males in 2014-15 (11.8% compared with 9.8%). However, asthma was more common amongst boys aged 0-14 years (12.4%) than girls (9.6%), with this pattern being consistent since 2001.

Graph Image for Proportion of persons with asthma, 2001 to 2014-15

Source(s): National Health Survey: First Results, 2014-15

It is recommended that people with asthma have a written action plan that includes instructions for when they are well and whenever symptoms worsen[2]. In 2014-15, of the 2.5 million people with asthma, 28.1% had a written asthma action plan. The proportion of people with action plans has increased from 17.0% in 2001 and 24.0% in 2011-12.

Graph Image for Persons with asthma - Proportion with a written asthma action plan, 2001 to 2014-15

Source(s): National Health Survey: First Results, 2014-15


1 The Department of Health, January 2015, Chronic respiratory conditions - including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), <http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/chronic-respiratory>; last accessed 01/12/2015

2 National Asthma Council Australia, August 2015, How is Asthma managed? <http://www.nationalasthma.org.au/understanding-asthma/how-is-asthma-managed->; last accessed 01/12/2015