Aims: To compare the self-reported prevalence of asthma symptoms, among 12 to 15 year olds in three districts in the greater Wellington region, and to compare prevalence among three ethnic groups--Maori, Pacific Island and others.
Methods: Third form students from 13 secondary schools in the Wellington region, were surveyed using a video questionnaire and a standardised written questionnaire, during July 1991.
Results: Using the video questionnaire, the prevalence of wheeze during the previous 12 months was similar in Wellington city (32%), Lower Hutt (38%), and Porirua (37%); the corresponding findings using the written questionnaire were 28%, 27% and 30% respectively. The reported prevalence was also similar among Maori (38% using the video and 29% using the written questionnaire) and other children (36% and 30% respectively), but lower among Pacific Island children (31% and 20% respectively). The prevalence and frequency of severe attack of wheezing was similar in all three districts and all three ethnic groups.
Conclusions: These findings contradict previous speculations of possible differences in asthma prevalence or severity within the greater Wellington region. They are consistent with other evidence that there are at most minor differences in asthma prevalence between Maori and nonMaori children in New Zealand; however, asthma prevalence may be lower among Pacific Island children. Thus ethnic differences in asthma morbidity and mortality are not likely to be due to differences in prevalence, but more likely relate to differences in access to and delivery of asthma care.