BACKGROUND: Socioeconomic deprivation is known to be associated with worse outcomes in asthma, but there is a lack of population-based evidence of its impact across all stages of patient care. We investigated the association of socioeconomic deprivation with asthma-related care and outcomes across primary and secondary care and with asthma-related death in Wales.
METHODS AND FINDINGS: We constructed a national cohort, identified from 76% (2.4 million) of the Welsh population, of continuously treated asthma patients between 2013 and 2017 using anonymised, person-level, linked, routinely collected primary and secondary care data in the Secure Anonymised Information Linkage (SAIL) Databank. We investigated the association between asthma-related health service utilisation, prescribing, and deaths with the 2011 Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation (WIMD) and its domains. We studied 106,926 patients (534,630 person-years), 56.3% were female, with mean age of 47.5 years (SD = 20.3). Compared to the least deprived patients, the most deprived patients had slightly fewer total asthma-related primary care consultations per patient (incidence rate ratio [IRR] = 0.98, 95% CI 0.97-0.99, p-value < 0.001), slightly fewer routine asthma reviews (IRR = 0.98, 0.97-0.99, p-value < 0.001), lower controller-to-total asthma medication ratios (AMRs; 0.50 versus 0.56, p-value < 0.001), more asthma-related accident and emergency (A&E) attendances (IRR = 1.27, 1.10-1.46, p-value = 0.001), more asthma emergency admissions (IRR = 1.56, 1.39-1.76, p-value < 0.001), longer asthma-related hospital stay (IRR = 1.64, 1.39-1.94, p-value < 0.001), and were at higher risk of asthma-related death (risk ratio of deaths with any mention of asthma 1.56, 1.18-2.07, p-value = 0.002). Study limitations include the deprivation index being area based and the potential for residual confounders and mediators.
CONCLUSIONS: In this study, we observed that the most deprived asthma patients in Wales had different prescribing patterns, more A&E attendances, more emergency hospital admissions, and substantially higher risk of death. Interventions specifically designed to improve treatment and outcomes for these disadvantaged groups are urgently needed.