Background: The Spring South Australian Health Omnibus Survey (SSAHOS) has been used to monitor trends in asthma prevalence, asthma morbidity and asthma management practices between 1992 and 1995.
Aims: To determine if self-reported asthma prevalence and availability of asthma action plans were increasing. To identify deficiencies in asthma management and opportunities for intervention.
Methods: Representative population survey by trained interviewers using a multistage, systematic, clustered area sample of 4200 households in South Australia where people aged 15 years or more are living.
Results: Over 3000 interviews were conducted each year. Between 1992 and 1995 the self-reported prevalence of asthma in those aged 15 years or more increased significantly from 15.7% to 20.3% (p < 0.0005), and the prevalence of current asthma increased from 9.3% to 11.4% (p < 0.05). The self-reported availability of individual asthma action plans increased from 21.9% in 1992 to 42.2% in 1995 (p < 0.0005). In 1992, 21% had a nebuliser at home, and 10.5% had a peak flow meter. In 1993, 61.4% were using preventive medications, and 35% thought bronchodilators were 'preventer' medications. In 1994 and 1995, between 12.5% and 15.6% had nocturnal awakening weekly or more often, and 31.4% had morning asthma symptoms weekly or more often. Between 20.1% and 20.8% had lost days from usual activities during the last year. Those on incomes below $20,000 had more symptoms, had more admissions to hospital, and required more medication than those on higher incomes.
Conclusions: Self-reported asthma prevalence has increased. There remains a gap between current asthma management and that recommended by the National Asthma Campaign.