Study objectives: Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases in the United States. High rates of asthma hospitalization have been reported for some ethnic minorities; however, asthma hospitalization rates for American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) populations of all ages have not been studied. In this study, we examined and compared hospitalization rates for AI/AN populations and the general population in the United States.
Design: Hospital discharge records with a first-listed diagnosis of asthma were evaluated for AI/AN populations and the US general population of all ages from 1988 to 2002.
Results: The asthma hospitalization rate for AI/AN populations decreased from 17.8/10,000 per year in 1988 to 1990 to 12.9/10,000 per year in 2000 to 2002. The overall age-adjusted rate for 2000 to 2002 was slightly lower than that for the general US population (12.9/10,000 and 16.4/10,000, respectively). However, AI/AN populations living in the Southwest region (17.6/10,000) had the highest asthma hospitalization rate among the Indian Health Service regions and the rate from 2000 to 2002 was similar to that for the general US population. The 2000 to 2002 asthma hospitalization rate for AI/AN populations < 1 year of age (infants) was higher than that in US infants, and the rates for AI/AN age groups ≥ 1 year were similar to or lower than those for the general US population.
Conclusions: While asthma was rarely reported among AI/AN populations before 1975, the average annual age-adjusted asthma hospitalization rate was only slightly lower for AI/AN populations than that for the US general population from 2000 to 2002. Furthermore, the asthma hospitalization rates for AI/AN populations living in the Southwest and East regions were similar to the rate for the general US population. Efforts to further increase asthma awareness and symptom recognition among AI/AN populations should be implemented to help to reduce asthma hospitalizations.