The aim of this study was to compare female and male asthmatics with special emphasis on reported adherence, anxiety, and quality of sleep. The study included 470 subjects with current asthma from the Nordic countries, who took part in the European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS) II. Subjects were investigated with a structured clinical interview, including questions on the presence of respiratory symptoms and therapy. They were also asked to fill in the self-reported Hospital Anxiety Depression scale and the Basic Nordic Sleep Questionnaire. Inhaled corticosteroids (OR=0.55) and a doctor's appointment in the last 12 months (OR=0.54) implied a significantly reduced risk for non-adherence in normal situations. At exacerbation in asthma, women had a significantly decreased risk for non-adherence (OR=0.46). Female gender and anxiety were independent risk factors for both insomnia (OR=3.67 and 2.53, respectively) and daytime sleepiness (OR=2.53 and 2.04, respectively). Women with asthma have a more positive attitude towards their medication, have a higher reported adherence, and use inhaled corticosteroids more often than men. At the same time women report more often anxiety and insomnia than men. Awareness of sex differences in the manifestations and attitudes towards treatment of asthma is important in order to improve asthma management.
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