A retrospective cohort study evaluating healthcare resource utilization in patients with asthma in Japan

NPJ Prim Care Respir Med. 2019 Apr 29;29(1):13. doi: 10.1038/s41533-019-0128-8.


Although the global economic burden of asthma is well described, detailed data regarding Asia, particularly for Japan, are relatively scarce. This retrospective study aims to fill this evidence gap by evaluating asthma-associated healthcare resource utilization (HCRU) and economic burden in Japanese patients aged ≥16 years, identified using anonymized patient data from the Japan Medical Data Center (JMDC) database from April 2009 to March 2015. Asthma severity was classified according to asthma treatment guidelines from the Japanese Society of Allergology. HCRU was calculated based on hospitalizations, emergency room visits, outpatient visits, and prescriptions. Incidence rate ratios (IRRs) for HCRU and per-patient-per-year direct costs were reported. In addition, differences across HCRU and cost variables for severe versus non-severe asthma patients were also compared. Of 541,434 asthma cases identified from the JMDC database during the study period, 54,433 patients who met the inclusion criteria were included in this analysis. HCRU and costs were heavily concentrated within severe asthma, a subgroup comprising 12.7% of total study population. Moreover, patients with severe asthma had significantly higher all-cause hospitalizations, outpatient visits, outpatient prescriptions (IRR [95% CI], 1.60 [1.46-1.76]; 1.43 [1.41-1.45]; 1.24 [1.22-1.25], respectively), and total medical costs (mean ± SD costs, US$ 4345 ± 11,104 versus US$ 1528 ± 3989, P < 0.001 (t-test); US$ 1 = 110 JPY) compared with those with non-severe asthma. The burden of asthma is significantly and disproportionately concentrated in Japanese severe asthma patients, suggesting clinical failure to achieve adequate disease control. This study highlights the unmet needs for severe asthma in Japan and provides a catalyst for important dialogues in advancing public health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Asthma / epidemiology
  • Asthma / therapy*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies