How does asthma impact in Australia?
One in every nine Australians have asthma – around 2.7 million of us (1).
It’s more common in males younger than 14 years, but for people aged 15 years and over, asthma is more common in females (1).
The rate of asthma among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders is almost twice as high as that of non-Aboriginal Australians. This is even more marked in the older adult age group (2).
Asthma is more common in people living in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas (1).
The prevalence of asthma is significantly higher in people living in outer regional and remote areas compared to people living in major cities (1).
More than one in every two children with asthma who are younger than 15 years (57 per cent) have a written Asthma Action Plan (3).
But fewer than one in every five people with asthma who are aged over 15 years have a written Asthma Action Plan (3). This is lowest for people aged 25-44 (16.5%) (3).
Everyone with asthma should have a written Asthma Action Plan.
The cost of asthma
The cost of asthma is measured by the long-term impact it has on the ability of people with asthma to participate in everyday life.
The estimated cost of asthma in Australia in 2015 was $28 billion or $11,740 per person with asthma. The cost of asthma includes:
- $24.7 billion attributed to disability and premature death
- $1.2 billion on healthcare costs (including medication, hospital and out-of-hospital costs
- $1.1 billion in loss of productivity
- $72.9 million in loss of wages for carers
- $289.4 million in income support for carers of people with asthma
Read more about the hidden cost of asthma here (4).
Impact of asthma
Asthma has a major impact on individuals, their carers and Australia’s health system.
In 2017-208 there were 38,792 hospitalisations in where asthma was the main diagnosis (5). Almost half (44%) of these were for children aged younger than 14 years old. Children under 15 were more likely to be hospitalised with asthma (442 per 100,000 population) than those aged 15 and over (98 per 100,000) (2).
The previous year there were 70,034 Emergency Department presentations for asthma (6).
People with asthma are more likely to report a poor quality of life, especially those with severe or poorly controlled asthma (1). Asthma is the leading burdensome disease for children up to 15 years and in the top ten overall (AIHW Burden of Disease report).
There were 441 deaths due to asthma in 2016 (7). The rate of all deaths due to asthma has remained stable since 2011.
Although there has been a long-term declining trend in deaths due to asthma over this time, Asthma Australia is working to reinvigorate new asthma management and controls so fewer people die.
Asthma mortality rates are higher for people living in remote or lower socioeconomic areas, and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (2). From 2010-2014, the mortality rate for asthma among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders was twice that of non-Aboriginal Australians (2).
Download the Asthma in Australia Infographic here (PDF 1.1MB)
For more detailed information and asthma statistics click here.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018; National Health Survey: First Results 2017-18. ABS Cat no. 4364.0.55.001. Canberra: ABS.
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2018. Asthma Snapshot, Canberra: AIHW.
- Australian Government Productivity Commission (AGPC) 2018, Report on Government Services
- Asthma Australia and National Asthma Council 2015. Hidden Cost of Asthma Report. Canberra: Deloitte Access Economics
- AIHW 2019, Seperation statistics by principle diagnosis (ICD-10-AM 10th edition), Australia 2017-18. Canberra: AIHW
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2017. Emergency department care 2016–17: Australian hospital statistics. Canberra: AIHW
- Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2018. Causes of Death, Australia, 2017. Canberra: ABS.