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eISSN: 1643-3750

Intraregional differences in asthma prevalence and risk factors for asthma among adolescents in Split-Dalmatia County, Croatia

Ivan Gudelj, Iva Mrkić Kobal, Helena Munivrana Škvorc, Kornelija Miše, Žarko Vrbica, Davor Plavec, Neven Tudorić

Med Sci Monit 2012; 18(4): PH43-50

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.882609

Available online: 2012-04-01

Published: 2012-04-01

Background:    Our aim was to assess the differences in intraregional prevalence of asthma in adolescents in Split-Dalmatia County to determine asthma risk factors in our population and estimate the specificity and sensitivity of the questionnaire used.
    Material/Methods:    We conducted the study using the European Community Respiratory Health Survey II short questionnaire supplemented by some questions from the International Study of Asthma in Childhood questionnaire. The participants suspected to have asthma were invited for examination by an asthma specialist who established the final diagnosis of asthma according to the medical history, physical examination, skin-prick tests, and peak flow measurements.
    Results:    A total of 4027 students (51.2% male) participated in the study. According to the prevalence of wheezing during the last 12 months, asthma prevalence was estimated at 9.7%. The total prevalence of asthma confirmed by an asthma specialist in the selected population was 5.60% (95% CI, 4.93–6.36%); 6.18% in Split (95% CI, 5.37-7.09), 5.63% in Imotski (95% CI, 3.48–8.58), and 2.90% in Sinj (95% CI, 1.67–4.68) (P=0.0028). We found sensitization to aeroallergens and peanuts, and active smoking to be independent risk factors for asthma.
    Conclusions:    Split-Dalmatia County has moderate asthma prevalence, with a significant intraregional difference. Asthma prevalence estimated by a questionnaire (9.7%) overestimates the prevalence of asthma confirmed by an asthma specialist (5.6%) in adolescents in Croatia. Our data confirmed the need of a more complex questionnaire to evaluate the accurate prevalence of current asthma or the need for subsequent clinical evaluation of the questionnaire obtained data. Allergic sensitization to aeroallergens and active smoking were important risk factors for asthma.

Keywords: Prevalence, Questionnaires, Croatia, Asthma - epidemiology, Adolescent, Risk Factors