Survey respondents indicate their asthma impacts their quality of life.
A cross-sectional study using data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the National Center for Health Statistics has revealed that asthma greatly reduces an individual’s quality of life over the lifespan. The nationally representative Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) database was also used to categorize the answers of more than 10,000 respondents in the six-year span from 2010-2016 into severity categories (i.e., mild, moderate, or severe). The tools allowed researchers to better understand how patients diagnosed with asthma generally experience worsening health-related quality of life (HRQOL) due to living with the condition and experiencing flare-ups that affect breathing.
The coronavirus has drawn more attention around those who are asthmatic and tend to experience an increase in symptom severity if the virus is contracted. According to the research them, 15.4 million Americans are diagnosed with, and treated for, asthma each year,” in general, costing billions of dollars in medical care, mortality, and absenteeism from school and work.”
The study indicates that data was collected using the “Short Form Health Survey (SF-12) questionnaire, which gathers responses to 12 items for a generic HRQOL measure which patients received 2 scores in: the mental component summary (MCS) and physical component summary (PCS), with a lower score equaling worse patient condition.” The MCS measured “vitality, mental health, and social functioning.” The PCS measured “body pain and physical functioning…Mild, moderate, and severe asthma were 75.4%, 23.9%, and .08% of patients respectively.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, the study found that those with the most severe asthma for most likely to report low quality of life due. Overall, the data showed “at 27.6% of mild, 32.3% of moderate, and 37.1% of severe asthma (P < .001).” Physical limitations resulting from the patients’ conditions was the highest predictor of life quality, and being female, of a lower education level and older age, and using public insurance also were high predictors of low HRQOL. Notably, the authors found there was “no significant differences in MCS by the severity of asthma after controlling for covariates.”
“These data suggest that the management of physical health of female, older aged, and low education patients with asthma should be focused on improving HRQOL,” the authors concluded in their report, which may help guide treatment protocol for asthma management. The data can be used by physicians to ensure patients are receiving the care they are looking for and that their self-perceived quality of life is taken into consideration.
In conclusion, the team wrote, “patients with asthma perceived that their HRQOL was impaired by asthma and that severe asthma substantially worsens HRQOL compared to mild asthma, particularly on the physical component of the SF-12 instrument, in the general US population. Factors of female, older age, and low education also had a deleterious effect on physical HRQOL. These results suggest that efforts of asthma management of physical health in addition to mental health should focus on severe asthma, female, older aged, and less educated asthma patients to improve asthma HRQOL.”