On World Lung Day, Asthma Canada has announced the release of A Snapshot of Asthma in Canada, its inaugural Annual Asthma Survey Report.
The report reveals that issues such as difficulty with accessing medication and lack of proper asthma management are leading to regular disruptions to the day-to-day lives of Canadians with asthma. Moreover, people with low income, those with Severe Asthma, and young adults between 18 and 34 living with asthma are disproportionately impacted by the disease, resulting in poor health outcomes.
The report shows that Canadians in these high-risk groups are more likely to have reduced quality of life, and are less likely to use recommended asthma management methods such as having a written asthma action plan as compared to other groups. Those within the three identified vulnerable groups are also more likely to struggle to afford asthma medications. Fifty-four percent of respondents in the low income brackets, and thirty-three percent of respondents between the ages of 18 -34 indicated that they have skipped filling a prescription for asthma medication due to inability to afford it.
“ A Snapshot of Asthma” in Canada highlights the lived reality of asthma patients, and identifies the ways in which asthma impacts their health and everyday lives,” said Dr. Susan Waserman, Professor of Medicine, Division Director, Clinical Immunology and Allergy, McMaster University, and Director of the Adverse Reactions Clinic, Firestone Institute of Respiratory Health, St. Joseph’s Hospital. “Identifying critical gaps in care, and high-risk groups, will help us create a road-map towards better care and improved health outcomes.”
While a majority (84%) of respondents indicated that they have timely access to a family doctor, 21% of respondents indicated that they do not have timely access to asthma and allergy specialists or asthma clinics. This is a concerning finding as access to specialists, as well as interdisciplinary healthcare teams available at asthma clinics are key in managing uncontrolled and Severe Asthma. As one respondent reported, “The single most helpful thing in managing my son’s asthma has been an asthma clinic we attended, but I had to ask for it and I hear it may not continue due to funding.”
“This report highlights the significant challenges that the 3.8 million Canadians with asthma face daily,” said Vanessa Foran, President and CEO, Asthma Canada. “Lack of access to medications and proper asthma management are leading to regular disruptions of day-to-day lives – from missed days at school and work to foregoing daily activities. More needs to be done to support the Canadian asthma community so that every patient can aim for zero symptoms.”
The study has also revealed that comorbid and associated conditions can also have a major impact on the overall management of asthma. There has been little focus on alleviating the impact of, and managing issues that are associated with asthma such as anxiety and other mental health conditions. Moving forward, mental health outcomes need to be included as a key indicator of success in any asthma treatment plan.
To learn more, visit Asthma Canada.