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16-02-2011 | Respiratory | Article

Survey highlights economic burden of adult asthma in USA


Free abstract

MedWire News: Results from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) highlight the significant economic burden of adult asthma in the USA, with medical expenditure on the condition totaling an estimated US $18 billion (€13.3 billion) annually between 2003 and 2005.

"To understand the nature and scope of the burden of asthma in the USA, it is important to have an accurate description of the extent and characteristics of medical expenditures and productivity loss in the nation," explain Patrick Sullivan (Regis University School of Pharmacy, Denver, Colorado, USA) and team.

The researchers therefore studied pooled data from the 2003 and 2005 MEPSs to estimate the direct and indirect costs of asthma among adults.

In total, 47,033 adults provided information on demographic and socioeconomic characteristics, health conditions, insurance status, smoking status, use and cost of health care services, employment, and missed work days.

The researchers found that participants with asthma (n=2003) were a significant 22% less likely to be employed, and spent an annual average of 1.4 more days sick in bed than those without the condition.

Adults with asthma reported having, on average, 3.4 chronic conditions compared with 1.8 for those without asthma. They were also significantly more likely to have activity limitations and be unable to work than their nonasthmatic counterparts.

Regarding costs, participants with asthma incurred an additional US $1907 (€1411) in medical expenditure per year compared with nonasthmatic participants, after accounting for age, gender, income, ethnicity, education, smoking, insurance coverage, and other factors.

Extrapolating the findings to the national population, the researchers estimated that the total medical expenditure attributable to adult asthma was US $18 billion, after accounting for sociodemographic characteristics and comorbidity.

"The results suggest that asthma continues to be a significant public health concern and represents a substantial economic burden," the researchers conclude in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Mark Cowen

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