Objective: Asthma is a disease with elevated prevalence within the general population. Although general practitioners (GPs) are among the first health-care professionals to whom patients refer for their symptoms, there are few evaluations of this disease based on data provided by the GPs. The aim of this observational study is to assess the impact of asthma and comorbid allergic rhinitis on individual/social burden, quality of life, and disease control in asthmatic patients of Italian GPs.
Methods: Throughout Italy, 107 GPs enrolled 995 patients diagnosed with asthma and using anti-asthmatic drug prescriptions, or with asthma-like symptoms during the previous 12 months. Data were collected through questionnaires filled out by GPs and patients.
Results: Of the 995 asthmatic patients, 60.6% had concomitant allergic rhinitis (R+A), 39.4% had asthma alone. The latter, compared to those with R+A, showed significantly lower prevalence of intermittent asthma (37.5% vs. 55.6%) and higher prevalence of mild, moderate, and severe persistent asthma (28.4% vs. 23.2%, 28.7% vs. 18.8%, and 5.4% vs 2.4%, respectively). Individual/social burden due to asthma was frequent and increased with disease severity: 87.5% of severe persistent asthma patients reported at least one medical consultation in the last 12 months, 37.5% emergency department visits, 26.7% hospitalization, and 62.5% limitations in daily activities. Control and quality of life were inversely associated with disease severity and were worse in patients with R+A than in those with asthma alone.
Conclusions: This study showed the negative impact of high severity levels and comorbid allergic rhinitis on quality of life of asthmatic patients and on individual/social burden due to asthma in an Italian GPs setting.