BACKGROUND: The South Asian and Chinese populations represent a significant portion of the population of Ontario; however, little is known about the burden of respiratory diseases in these populations.
OBJECTIVE: To investigate the prevalence of asthma and the associated health care burden among South Asian and Chinese populations living in Ontario.
METHODS: Using administrative health data for Ontario, the authors identified individuals of South Asian and Chinese descent using a validated surname algorithm and compared the prevalence of asthma in these groups with the general population using an established asthma case definition for the period 2002 to 2010. Also compared were the rates of asthma-specific emergency department visits and hospitalizations among the ethnic groups.
RESULTS: In 2010, the prevalence of asthma in South Asians residing in Ontario was similar to that of the general population (12.1% versus 12.4%), and was increasing at a faster rate than in the general population (0.51%/year versus 0.34%/year). Compared with the general population, the South Asian population had fewer emergency department visits for asthma, whereas the asthma-related hospitalization rate was greatest among the South Asian population (0.45 per 100 person-years). The Chinese population had the lowest asthma prevalence and associated health care use.
CONCLUSION: The burden of asthma among South Asians in Ontario is increasing and warrants further investigation to determine the reasons for this rise.