Background: Studies on the indirect costs of asthma have taken a narrow view of how the condition affects the living standards of patients by examining only the association with employment and income.
Objective: To build on the current cost-of-illness literature and identify whether having asthma is associated with an increased risk of poverty, thus giving a more complete picture of the costs of asthma to individuals and society.
Methods: Longitudinal analysis of the nationally representative Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australian survey to estimate the relative risk of income poverty, multidimensional poverty, and long-term multidimensional poverty between 2007 and 2012 and population attributable risk method to estimate the proportion of poverty between 2007 and 2012 directly attributable to asthma.
Results: No significant difference was found in the risk of falling into income poverty between those with and without asthma (P =.07). Having asthma increased the risk of falling into multidimensional poverty by 1.35 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.01-1.83) and the risk of falling into chronic multidimensional poverty by 2.22 (95% CI, 1.20-4.10). Between 2007 and 2012, a total of 5.2% of income poverty cases (95% CI, 5.1%-5.4%), 7.8% of multidimensional poverty cases (95% CI, 7.7%-8.0%), and 19.6% of chronic multidimensional poverty cases (95% CI, 19.2%-20.0%) can be attributed to asthma.
Conclusion: Asthma is associated with an increased risk of falling into poverty. This should be taken into consideration when considering the suitability of different treatment options for patients with asthma.