Self-reported prevalence of asthma symptoms in children in Australia, England, Germany and New Zealand: an international comparison using the ISAAC protocol

N. Pearce, S. Weiland, U. Keil, P. Langridge, H.R. Anderson, D. Strachan, A. Bauman, L. Young, P. Gluyas, D. Ruffin

Abstract: There is a need for a standardized approach to international and regional comparisons of the prevalence and severity of asthma, and for the monitoring of asthma morbidity over time. In 1991, standardized written and video questionnaires were developed and administered in surveys of schoolchildren, aged 12-15 yrs, in five regions in four countries: Adelaide, Australia (n = 1,428); Sydney, Australia (n = 1519); West Sussex, England (n = 2,097); Bochum, Germany (n = 1928); and Wellington, New Zealand (n = 1863).

The self-reported prevalence of wheezing during the previous 12 months was similar in West Sussex (29% using the written questionnaire and 30% using the video questionnaire), Wellington (28 and 36%), Adelaide (29 and 37%), and Sydney (30 and 40%), but was lower in Bochum (20 and 27%). The one year prevalence of severe wheezing limiting speech was greater in Wellington (11%), Adelaide (10%) and Sydney (13%), than in West Sussex (7%) and Bochum (6%). The self-reported one year prevalences of frequent attacks, frequent nocturnal wheezing, and doctor diagnosed asthma, were also higher in the Australasian centres than in the European centres.

We conclude, that an international comparison of asthma symptom prevalence in childhood, using simple standardized instruments, is feasible. Possible explanations for the differences in reported asthma severity between the Australasian and European centres include differences in exposure to risk factors and differences in the management of asthma.

Eur Respir J 1993; 6: 1455-61.

View full article

Close Window