Worldwide severity and control of asthma in children and adults: the global asthma insights and reality surveys

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2004 Jul;114(1):40-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2004.04.042.


Background: In 1995, the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) guidelines recommended goals for the management of asthma, which were updated in 2002. However, there are no recent international surveys on the real management of asthma.

Objective: The Asthma Insights and Reality surveys are the first large-scale surveys aimed at determining international variations in the severity, control, and management of asthma in children and adults.

Methods: A cross-section of households in 29 countries in North America, Europe, and Asia were surveyed to identify from the general population asthmatic patients with symptoms within the last year or who were taking current asthma medication. A standard questionnaire was administered to 7786 adults, and, through a proxy, to 3153 children with asthma. Objective and subjective patient perception of asthma control and severity were assessed, including access to medical care, health care use, missed work-school, and medication use.

Results: Despite variations at a country level, a substantial effect of asthma on patients' lives was observed, with considerable loss of schooldays and workdays. The current level of asthma control worldwide falls far short of the goals for long-term management in international guidelines. A significant proportion of patients continue to have symptoms and lifestyle restrictions and to require emergency care. The proportion of adult asthmatic patients who were current smokers was also high. However, the use of anti-inflammatory preventative medication, even in patients with severe persistent asthma, was low, ranging from 26% in Western Europe to 9% in Japan, as was the use of objective lung function testing. The correlation between self-perceived severity of asthma and objective assessment of severity on the basis of GINA criteria was consistently poor in all areas.

Conclusion: We conclude that there is direct evidence for suboptimal asthma control in many patients worldwide, despite the availability of effective therapies, with long-term management falling far short of the goals set in the GINA guidelines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Asthma / physiopathology
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Global Health
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents