Objective: Asthma is an important determinant of hospitalization. The study aims to examine the modifying effects of demographic and socioeconomic factors on the relationship between asthma and the overall number of hospitalizations.
Methods: We examined the data on 17,601 Canadians who were > or = 12 years of age to explore the combined effects of asthma and other factors on hospitalization within the context of a publicly funded health-care system. Asthma was determined by an affirmative response to the question: "Do you have asthma diagnosed by a health professional?" The subjects also were asked whether they had been an overnight patient in a hospital during the past 12 months.
Results: Asthma as a risk factor explained 3.7% of all hospitalizations of men and 2.4% of all hospitalizations of women. Overall, hospitalization was positively associated with female gender, old age, and low household income. The odds ratio for asthma as a risk factor for overall hospitalization (ie, hospitalization for any reason and all causes, not only for asthma) was greater for younger men than for older men, for less-educated women than for well-educated women, and for men with middle or high incomes than for men with low incomes.
Conclusions: These results suggest that demographic and socioeconomic factors play a role in the relationship between asthma and the overall number of hospitalizations, with certain population subgroups being at greater risk of hospitalization in relation to asthma.