Objective: To compare the prevalence and management of asthma before and after institution of the National Asthma Campaign.
Design: Repeat population-based cross-sectional analytic surveys.
Setting: Eastern Australia (Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, and the Hunter Valley, New South Wales) in September 1990 and 1993.
Subjects: Primary school children and their parents from 33 schools (8746 children) in 1990 and 40 schools (10 106 children) in 1993.
Outcome measures: Frequency of respiratory symptoms; diagnoses of asthma; medications; lung function measurements; possession of a peak flow meter and a written action plan.
Results: Age and sex distribution of the subjects and the reported prevalence of asthma were similar in 1990 and 1993. The frequency of reported episodes of wheezing and troublesome cough increased significantly in children between 1990 and 1993. Asthma management improved in accordance with current recommendations, with significantly decreased use of regular inhaled bronchodilator medication in children and increased use of preventive medication, monitoring of lung function by doctors and use of peak flow meters and written action plans in both children and adults.
Conclusion: There is evidence that the National Asthma Campaign may have contributed to increased awareness and improved management of asthma in children and adults in eastern Australia.