Epidemiology of asthma hospitalizations among American Indian and Alaska Native people and the general United States population

Jason M Mehal, Robert C Holman, Claudia A Steiner, Michael L Bartholomew, Rosalyn J Singleton
Chest 2014, 146 (3): 624-632

BACKGROUND: Asthma, a common chronic disease among adults and children in the United States, results in nearly one-half million hospitalizations annually. There has been no evaluation of asthma hospitalizations for American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) people since a previous study using data for 1988-2002. In this study, we describe the epidemiology and trends for asthma hospitalizations among AI/AN people and the general US population for 2003-2011.

METHODS: Hospital discharge records with a first-listed diagnosis of asthma for 2003-2011 were examined for AI/AN people, using Indian Health Service (IHS) data, and for the general US population, using the Nationwide Inpatient Sample. Average annual crude and age-adjusted hospitalization rates were calculated.

RESULTS: The average annual asthma hospitalization rates for AI/AN people and the general US population decreased from 2003-2005 to 2009-2011 (32% and 11% [SE, 3%], respectively). The average annual age-adjusted rate for 2009-2011 was lower for AI/AN people (7.6 per 10,000 population) compared with the general US population (13.2 per 10,000; 95% CI, 12.8-13.6). Age-specific AI/AN rates were highest among infants and children 1 to 4 years of age. IHS regional rates declined in all regions except Alaska.

CONCLUSIONS: Asthma hospitalization rates are decreasing for AI/AN people and the general US population despite increasing prevalence rates. AI/AN people experienced a substantially lower age-adjusted asthma hospitalization rate compared with the general US population. Although the rates for AI/AN infants and children 1 to 4 years of age have declined substantially, they remain higher compared with other age groups. Improved disease management and awareness should help to further decrease asthma hospitalizations, particularly among young children.

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