Myths around asthma remain strong, new research finds

Fewer than half of all Australians can correctly identify asthma as a chronic disease that doesn’t go away, according to new Asthma Australia research.¹

In the lead up to Asthma Week (1–7 September), Asthma Australia commissioned a survey of 1,012 Australian adults to determine the extent to which they understand key facts about asthma.

The research found most Australians are impacted by asthma, with 18% being diagnosed themselves and 45% knowing someone with asthma.

Despite this, just 44% of the survey respondents correctly identified asthma as a chronic disease that doesn’t go away, with 27% viewing it as a chronic disease that one grows out of and 17% viewing the chronic disease as present only when the patient is experiencing symptoms.

The research also found that while most Australians were able to identify pollen, smoke, exercise, and colds and flus as potential asthma triggers, only 46% were aware that thunderstorms can also be triggers. Those aged under 35 were least likely to know.

Young people were also least likely to identify asthma as a potentially fatal disease, with just 50% of 18–24-year-olds correctly identifying this, compared to around 80% of older Australians aged 50 and over.

Even though the introduction of inhaled anti-inflammatory preventer medication has been associated with a significant decrease in hospitalisations and mortality due to asthma by 45% between 1997 and 2009,² only 55% of respondents correctly identified it as the best way to reduce asthma symptoms. Of the respondents, 26% instead suggested the everyday use of a blue reliever puffer was the best way to control asthma.

This study highlights that pharmacists still have an active role in educating patients and their families about asthma and its potential triggers, such as thunderstorms. Asthma Week is an ideal opportunity for pharmacists to pick up this conversation with their patients.

1. Asthma Australia. Busting Asthma Myths. September 2018.
2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Asthma in Australia: With a focus chapter on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. 2011. At: