Background: The morbidity and mortality from asthma have markedly increased since the late 1970s. The hospitalization rate, an important marker of asthma severity, remains substantial.
Methods: In adults with health care access, we prospectively studied 242 with asthma, aged 18-50 years, recruited from a random sample of allergy and pulmonary physician practices in Northern California to identify risk factors for subsequent hospitalization.
Results: Thirty-nine subjects (16%) reported hospitalization for asthma during the 18-month follow-up period. On controlling for asthma severity in multiple logistic regression analysis, non-white race (odds ratio [OR], 3.1; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.1-8.8) and lower income (OR, 1.1 per $10,000 decrement; 95% CI, 0.9-1.3) were associated with a higher risk of asthma hospitalization. The severity-of-asthma score (OR, 3.4 per 5 points; 95%, CI 1.7-6.8) and recent asthma hospitalization (OR, 8.3; 95%, CI, 2.1-33.4) were also related to higher risk, after adjusting for demographic characteristics. Reliance on emergency department services for urgent asthma care was also associated with a greater likelihood of hospitalization (OR, 3.2; 95% CI, 1.0-9.8). In multivariate analysis not controlling for asthma severity, low income was even more strongly related to hospitalization (OR, 1.2 per $10,000 decrement; 95% CI, 1.02-1.4).
Conclusion: In adult asthmatics with access to health care, non-white race, low income, and greater asthma severity were associated with a higher risk of hospitalization. Targeted interventions applied to high-risk asthma patients may reduce asthma morbidity and mortality.