Notes on the data: Chronic diseases and conditions
Estimated population with asthma, 2017–18
Policy context: Asthma is a disorder affecting the small airways of the lungs. People with asthma have sensitive airways that narrow in response to certain "triggers", leading to difficulty in breathing. The airway narrowing is caused by inflammation and swelling of the airway lining, the tightening of the airway muscles, and the production of excess mucus. This results in a reduced airflow in and out of the lungs. At present, the cause of asthma is not known and there is no cure. However, with appropriate management, most people with asthma can lead normal, active lives.
In 2017-18, around 2.7 million Australians (11.2%) had asthma. The prevalence of asthma in the Australian population in the last decade increased from 9.9% in 2007-08 to 11.2% in 2017-18. Rates of asthma were higher for females (12.3%) than males (10.2%). This was however the reverse in 0-14 age group with boys having higher rates of asthma than girls (12.1% compared to 7.9%), a consistent trend since 2001 .
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). National Health Survey: First Results, 2017–18 — Australia. Canberra: ABS; 2018. Available from: https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/4364.0.55.001~2017-18~Main%20Features~Asthma~35; last accessed 9 December 2019
Differences from data published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS):
Data by quintile of socioeconomic disadvantage and Remoteness will differ to the extent that data extracted from Survey TableBuilder have been randomised, whereas those published by the ABS are not. In addition, rates published by the ABS for modelled estimates are generally crude rates; rates published by PHIDU are age-standardised.
In the absence of data from administrative data sets, estimates are provided at the Population Health Area (PHA) level for selected chronic diseases and conditions from the 2017–18 National Health Survey (NHS), conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The estimates at the Population Health Area (PHA) are modelled estimates produced by the ABS (estimates at the Local Government Area (LGA) and Primary Health Network (PHN) level were derived from the PHA estimates).
Details of the method used and accuracy of results are available from the ABS paper Explanatory Notes: Modelled estimates for small areas based on the 2017-18 National Health Survey, available here.
For the Primary Health Network (PHN) data, differences between the PHN totals and the sum of LGAs within PHNs result from the use of different geographic correspondence files.
Estimates for quintile of socioeconomic disadvantage of area and Remoteness Area are direct estimates, extracted using the ABS Survey TableBuilder.
Users of these modelled estimates should note that they do not represent data collected in administrative or other data sets. As such, they should be used with caution, and treated as indicative of the likely social dimensions present in an area with these demographic and socioeconomic characteristics.
The numbers are estimates for an area, not measured events as are, for example, death statistics. As such, they should be viewed as a tool that, when used in conjunction with local area knowledge and taking into consideration the prediction reliability, can provide useful information that can assist with decision making for small geographic regions. Of particular note is that the true value of the published estimates is also likely to vary within a range of values as shown by the upper and lower limits published in the data (xlsx) and viewable in the column chart in the single map atlases.
What the modelled estimates do achieve, however, is to summarise the various demographic, socioeconomic and administrative information available for an area in a way that indicates the expected level of each health indicator for an area with those characteristics. In the absence of accurate, localised information about the health indicator, such predictions can usefully contribute to policy and program development, service planning and other decision-making processes that require an indication of the geographic distribution of the health indicator.
The relatively high survey response rate in the NHS provides a high level of coverage across the population; however, the response rate among some groups is lower than among other groups, e.g., those living in the most disadvantaged areas have a lower response rate than those living in less disadvantaged areas. Although the sample includes the majority of people living in households in private dwellings, it excludes those living in the very remote areas of Australia and discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities; whereas these areas comprise less than 3% of the total population, Aboriginal people comprise up to one third of the population. The survey does not include persons usually resident in non-private dwellings (hospitals, gaols, nursing homes - and also excludes members of the armed forces).
This and other limitations of the method mean that estimates have not been published for PHAs with populations under 1,000.
The ABS used a number of methods to measure the quality of the estimates, one of which is the relative root mean squared error (RRMSE) of the modelled estimates. The RRMSEs are included with the data. Users are advised that:
- estimates with RRMSEs less than 25% are considered reliable for most purposes;
- estimates with RRMSEs from 0.25 and to 0.50 have been marked (~) to indicate that they should be used with caution; and
- those greater than 0.50 but less than 1 are marked (~~) to indicate that the estimate is considered too unreliable for general use.
These data refer to persons ever told by a doctor or nurse that they have asthma, and whose asthma is current or long term. Whether a person's asthma is current or not was determined by whether they had had any symptoms of asthma or taken treatment for asthma in the last 12 months. A long-term condition is defined as a condition that is current and has lasted, or is expected to last, for 6 months or more.
Geography: Data available by Population Health Area, Local Government Area, Primary Health Network, quintile of socioeconomic disadvantage of area and Remoteness Area
Numerator: Estimated number of people with asthma as a current, long-term condition
Denominator: Total population
Detail of analysis: Indirectly age-standardised rate per 100 population; and/or indirectly age-standardised ratio, based on the Australian standard
PHA, LGA & PHN: Age-standardised rates are based on Australian Bureau of Statistics data, produced as a consultancy for PHIDU, from the 2017—18 National Health Survey.
Quintiles & Remoteness: Compiled by PHIDU based on direct estimates from the 2017–18 National Health Survey, ABS Survey TableBuilder.