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BACKGROUND: Hospital admissions account for a large share of the healthcare costs incurred by people with asthma. We assessed the hospital care use and costs associated with asthma severity using the UK Biobank cohort and linked healthcare data. METHODS: Adult participants with asthma at recruitment were classified using their prescription data into mild and moderate-to-severe asthma and matched separately to asthma-free controls by age, sex, ethnicity and location. The associations of asthma, by severity, with the annual number of all-cause hospital admissions, days spent in hospital and hospital costs were estimated over a 10-year follow-up period using three specifications of negative binomial regression models that differed according to the sociodemographic and clinical characteristics adjusted for. RESULTS: Of the 25 031 participants with active asthma, 80% had mild asthma and 20% had moderate-to-severe asthma. Compared with participants with mild asthma, those with moderate-to-severe asthma were on average 2.7 years older, more likely to be current (13.7% vs 10.4%) or previous (40.2% vs 35.2%) smokers, to have a higher body mass index (BMI), and to be suffering from a variety of comorbid diseases. Following adjustments for age, sex, ethnicity and location, people with mild asthma experienced on average 36% more admissions (95% CI 28% to 40%), 43% more days in hospital (95% CI 35% to 51%) and 36% higher hospital costs (95% CI 31% to 41%) annually than asthma-free individuals, while people with moderate-to-severe asthma experienced excesses of 93% (95% CI 81% to 107%), 142% (95% CI 124% to 162%) and 98% (95% CI 88% to 108%), respectively. Further adjustments for socioeconomic deprivation, smoking status, BMI and comorbidities resulted in smaller though still highly significant positive associations, graded by severity, between asthma and hospital use and costs. CONCLUSIONS: Strong graded associations are reported between asthma severity and the extent of hospital use and costs in the UK. These findings could inform future assessments of the value of asthma management interventions.

Original publication




Journal article


BMJ Open Respir Res

Publication Date





Asthma, Health Economist, Adult, Humans, Asthma, Health Care Costs, Hospitalization, Hospitals, United Kingdom