Psychopathology in patients with severe asthma is associated with increased health care utilization

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2001 Apr;163(5):1093-6. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.163.5.2004020.


Severe asthma accounts for the majority of health costs for this disease, which is mainly related to the treatment of failed control. Several psychosocial factors have been associated with poor asthma control, but the question remains whether psychiatric disorder in patients with severe asthma predisposes for increased health care utilization. In the present study we compared outpatients with severe asthma with and without psychological dysfunctioning with respect to health care utilization. All patients used high dose inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting bronchodilators for more than 1 yr, and had difficult-to-control asthma, requiring one or more courses of corticosteroids during the past year or maintenance therapy with prednisone. Medical history was taken and health care utilization questionnaires were completed. The General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) was used to identify psychiatric cases (GHQ-12 score of > or = 6). There were no differences between the psychiatric cases (n = 21) and the noncases (n = 77) with respect to demographic and objective disease characteristics. However, the psychiatric cases had increased odds ratios (OR) for frequent visits to GP (OR = 5.9), frequent emergency visits (OR = 5.3), frequent exacerbations (OR = 12.4), and frequent hospitalizations (OR = 4.8) as compared with the nonpsychiatric patients. The present findings suggest that the morbidity and costs of asthma might be related to the level of psychological dysfunctioning in patients with severe asthma rather than to asthma severity per se, thereby identifying an area of potential intervention.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Asthma / economics*
  • Asthma / psychology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs*
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / complications*
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk
  • Statistics, Nonparametric