Background: The severity of asthma varies in patients in primary care. The aim of this study was to identify factors related to asthma severity in a primary care setting.
Methods: In this cross-sectional asthma study a random sample of 1477 patients, aged 15-45 years, from 42 primary health care centres received two questionnaires: one disease oriented and one quality of life oriented, MiniAQLQ. A classification of the asthma severity similar to the GINA guidelines was made with the information obtained from the questionnaire. The classification was based on current treatment, use of rescue medication, night symptoms, emergency consultations and use of oral steroids for treatment of exacerbations.
Results: Thirty-five per cent of the women and 24% of the men were classified as having severe asthma. Women used more inhaled corticosteroids, more often took long acting beta-2 agonists or a leukotrien antagonist in addition to corticosteroids, experienced more frequent night awakenings and were more often smokers than men. In a multivariable analysis, female sex increased the odds of having severe asthma by 60% as compared with male sex, age by 3% per year, not having the asthma prescription filled owing to cost by 59%, daily smoking by 66% and pollen allergy by 85%.
Conclusions: Female sex, age, pollen and pet allergy, not having the asthma prescription filled owing to cost, and daily smoking were all independently associated with asthma severity.