In a multiracial country like Malaysia, ethnicity may influence the measurement of health-related quality of life (HRQL) in asthmatic patients. We invited 131 adult patients [44 Malays, 42 Chinese and 45 Indians; mean (95% CI) age: 43 (40.2-45.7) yrs; 28.2% male] with moderate-to-severe persistent asthma followed up in an urban-based hospital outpatient clinic to complete a disease-specific HRQL questionnaire [St Georges' Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ)] and to provide socio-demographic and asthma-related data. Indians reported significantly worse SGRQ total score, compared to Malays [mean (95% CI) difference: 10.15 (0.51-19.78); p = 0.037] and SGRQ activity score, compared to Malays [13.50 (1.95-25.05); p = 0.019] and Chinese [11.88 (0.19-25.05); p = 0.046]. Further analysis using multivariate linear regression showed that Indian ethnicity remained independently associated with SGRQ scores. Our finding highlights the relevance of ethnicity in assessing HRQL of asthmatic patients in a multiracial country such as Malaysia.
Study site: chest clinic of an urban-based
university teaching hospital
BACKGROUND: A study was undertaken to examine temporal trends and ethnic differences in the asthma mortality rate in Singapore.
METHODS: Asthma mortality rates in Singapore were estimated from vital data for the years from 1976 to 1995. Trends in sex and age specific (5-14, 15-34, 35-59, 60+ years) rates were obtained for four periods (1976-80, 1981-85, 1986-90, 1991-95) and for Chinese, Malay, and Indian subjects for the years when these data were available (1989-95).
RESULTS: An increase in asthma mortality was observed in children aged 5-14 years from 0.21 per 100,000 person years in 1976-80 to 0.72 per 100,000 person years in 1991-95. No increases were noted in the other age groups but a small decrease was observed in the 1991-95 period for the 35-59 year age group. Marked ethnic differences in mortality rates were observed. In the group aged 5-34 years the asthma mortality rates were 0.5 per 100,000 in Chinese subjects, 1.3 per 100,000 in Indians, and 2.5 per 100,000 in Malay subjects. Similar 2-4 fold differences were observed in all other age groups.
CONCLUSIONS: Apart from genetic factors, environmental exposures and medical care factors which influence asthma prevalence and severity are most likely to be the causes of the observed temporal trends and ethnic differences in the asthma mortality rate in Singapore, but further studies are needed to elucidate these more fully.
Though Western medicines and ideas about asthma have become popular in many Asian nations, local beliefs about treatment prevail. The multiracial society of Singapore shows a variety of beliefs about causes of asthma attacks (for example, the balance of yin and yang) and types of treatment--herbal remedies, inhaled versus eaten medicines, the influence of Ramadan. Many of the cultural practices mentioned are probably preserved among south east Asian minorities residing in the United Kingdom. Eastern treatments typically take a holistic approach to asthma and do not ignore the psychosomatic component of the disorder.
We investigated the aeroallergens affecting 200 asthmatics from the University Hospital in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and found 164 (82%) patients with skin prick test (SPT) reactivity to one or more of a panel of 14 allergens, which included indoor and outdoor animal and plant aeroallergens. Reactivity was most frequent to the indoor airborne allergens, with 159 (79.5%) reacting to either or both house dust mite (Dermatophagoides) species and 87 (43.5%) to cockroach. The SPT reactivity to house dust mites corresponded with the finding that patients found house dust to be the main precipitant of asthmatic attacks.
Complementary Medicine (CM) usage amongst asthmatic patients was studied. Eighty-eight patients, selected by systematic random sampling in two public polyclinics in April/May 2004, were interviewed. They completed a structured pre-tested questionnaire. Forty-one percent were using CM, majority (64%) together with conventional therapy. Eighty-one percent did not inform their physicians of their CM usage. More Malays were using CM which included nutritional supplements, herbs, yoga, homoeopathy, reflexology and massage.
OBJECTIVES: This paper examines the ethnic and gender differentials in high blood pressure (HBP), diabetes, coronary heart disease (CHD), arthritis and asthma among older people in Malaysia, and how these diseases along with other factors affect self-rated health. Differentials in the prevalence of non-communicable diseases among older people are examined in the context of socio-cultural perspectives in multi-ethnic Malaysia.
METHODS: Data for this paper are obtained from the 2004 Malaysian Population and Family Survey. The survey covered a nationally representative sample of 3,406 persons aged 50 and over, comprising three main ethnic groups (Malays, Chinese and Indians) and all other indigenous groups. Bivariate analyses and hierarchical logistic regression were used in the analyses.
RESULTS: Arthritis was the most common non-communicable disease (NCD), followed by HBP, diabetes, asthma and CHD. Older females were more likely than males to have arthritis and HBP, but males were more likely to have asthma. Diabetes and CHD were most prevalent among Indians, while arthritis and HBP were most prevalent among the Indigenous groups. Older people were more likely to report poor health if they suffered from NCD, especially CHD. Controlling for socio-economic, health and lifestyle factors, Chinese were least likely to report poor health, whereas Indians and Indigenous people were more likely to do so. Chinese that had HBP were more likely to report poor health compared to other ethnic groups with the same disease. Among those with arthritis, Indians were more likely to report poor health.
CONCLUSION: Perceived health status and prevalence of arthritis, HBP, diabetes, asthma and CHD varied widely across ethnic groups. Promotion of healthy lifestyle, early detection and timely intervention of NCDs affecting different ethnic groups and gender with socio-cultural orientations would go a long way in alleviating the debilitating effects of the common NCDs among older people.
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: The Asthma Insight and Management (AIM) survey was conducted in North America, Europe, the Asia-Pacific region and Latin America to characterize patients' insights, attitudes and perceptions about their asthma and its treatment. We report findings from the Asia-Pacific survey.
METHODS: Asthma patients (≥12 years) from Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand were surveyed. Patients answered 53 questions exploring general health, diagnosis/history, symptoms, exacerbations, patient burden, disease management, medications/treatments and patient's attitudes. The Global Initiative for Asthma guidelines were used to assess asthma control. The survey was conducted by random digit telephone dialling (Australia, China and Hong Kong) or by random face-to-face interviews (India, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand).
RESULTS: There were 80 761 households screened. Data from 3630 patients were collected. Wide disparity existed between objective measures of control and patient perception. Reported exacerbations during the previous year ranged from 19% (Hong Kong) to 67% (India). Reported unscheduled urgent/emergency visits to a doctor's office/hospital/clinic in the previous year ranged from 15% (Hong Kong) to 46% (Taiwan). Patients who reported having controlled asthma in the previous month ranged from 27% (South Korea) to 84% (Taiwan). Substantial functional and emotional limitations due to asthma were identified by 13% (South Korea) to 78% (India) of patients.
CONCLUSIONS: Asthma has a profound impact on patients' well-being despite the availability of effective treatments and evidence-based management guidelines. Substantial differences across the surveyed countries exist, suggesting unmet, country-specific cultural and educational needs. A large proportion of asthma patients overestimate their level of control.
Study site: random digit telephone dialling or by random face-to-face interviews at pre-selected locations.