Background: Recent reports have identified New York City as having asthma mortality rates that are substantially higher than expected based on US rates. This study investigates the problems of asthma morbidity and mortality in New York City.
Methods: Data on asthma hospitalizations (1982 to 1986) and deaths (1982 to 1987) among persons aged 0 to 34 years were studied. Descriptive and multivariate techniques were used to examine differences in rates among subgroups and across geographic areas.
Results: The average annual hospitalization rate was 39.2 per 10,000; the mortality rate was 1.2 per 100,000. Hospitalization and death rates among Blacks and Hispanics were 3 to 5.5 times those of Whites. Large geographic variations in hospitalizations and mortality occurred. Asthma hospitalization and mortality rates were highly correlated (r = .67), with the highest rates concentrated in the city's poorest neighborhoods. Household income, percentage of population Black, and percentage of population Hispanic were significant predictors of area hospitalization rates (adjusted R2 = .75).
Conclusion: These findings provide a basis for focusing investigations of the causes of variations in asthma outcomes and targeting interventions to reduce the disproportionate morbidity and mortality borne by poor and minority populations.