Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Economic burden of asthma: a systematic review

Katayoun Bahadori1, Mary M Doyle-Waters1, Carlo Marra2, Larry Lynd2, Kadria Alasaly3, John Swiston4 and J Mark FitzGerald4*

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for Clinical Epidemiology & Evaluation (C2E2), UBC, Vancouver, BC, Canada

2 Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, UBC, Vancouver, BC, Canada

3 British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), Vancouver, BC, Canada

4 Department of Medicine, Respiratory Division, UBC, Vancouver, BC, Canada

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BMC Pulmonary Medicine 2009, 9:24  doi:10.1186/1471-2466-9-24

Published: 19 May 2009



Asthma is associated with enormous healthcare expenditures that include both direct and indirect costs. It is also associated with the loss of future potential earnings related to both morbidity and mortality. The objective of the study is to determine the burden of disease costs associated with asthma.


We performed a systematic search of MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, CDSR, OHE-HEED, and Web of Science Databases between 1966 and 2008.


Sixty-eight studies met the inclusion criteria. Hospitalization and medications were found to be the most important cost driver of direct costs. Work and school loss accounted for the greatest percentage of indirect costs. The cost of asthma was correlated with comorbidities, age, and disease severity.


Despite the availability of effective preventive therapy, costs associated with asthma are increasing. Strategies including education of patients and physicians, and regular follow-up are required to reduce the economic burden of asthma.