Background: The aim was to evaluate the impact of asthma on patients’ Health-Related Quality of Life (HRQoL) by comparing asthmatic women and men with reference norms, to examine the factors which contributed to an impaired HRQoL, and to identify groups at higher risk.
Methods: Cross-sectional evaluation of 222 primary care patients with persistent asthma (18–40 years old). HRQoL impact was estimated with the EuroQol-5 Dimensions (EQ-5D), which allows calculating Quality-Adjusted Life-Years (QALYs) by applying society preferences. Participants self-completed the EQ-5D questionnaire online. Telephonic interviews collected information on medication and adherence, and administered the Asthma Control Questionnaire. Severity markers included asthma-related comorbidity, previous oral corticosteroids course prescription, and inhaled corticosteroids daily dose. After bivariate analyses, multiple linear regression models were constructed to examine the relations between HRQoL asthma impact and socio-demographic and clinical variables, using as dependent variable the deviation from general population-based EQ-5D reference norms.
Results: Deviation from the EQ-5D index norms was moderate in most age/gender groups (-0.1, which corresponds to 0.6 standard deviations), while it was large in women aged 18–24 years (-0.18, corresponding to 1.1 standard deviations). In regression models, a poor asthma control was the only factor independently associated to HRQoL impact in both women and men: β -0.18 (p<0.001) and -0.15 (p = 0.01) respectively. Translating these β coefficients to QALYs, they are interpretable as 66 fewer days of full health per year in women with uncontrolled asthma and 55 for men, compared with those with controlled asthma.
Conclusion: Persistent asthma has a moderately negative HRQoL impact on patients of both genders, and the youngest women have been identified as a high risk group which merits further research. We identified asthma control as the major contributor to impaired HRQoL in patients, regardless of their gender, suggesting that asthma HRQoL impact could be alleviated by achieving a good control of symptoms.