Asthma is the most common long-term medical condition affecting at least 10% of Australian children. Genetic factors, ethnicity and socio-economic status are associated with difference in asthma severity. Asthma is the second most common self-reported long-term illness among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.


Indigenous Australians with asthma have higher morbidity and mortality compared with non-Indigenous Australians. In children hospitalised with acute asthma, we aimed to:
(i) determine if acute severity, risk factors and management differed between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children
(ii) identify intervention points to reduce morbidity and mortality of asthma.

Our research has found:

  • Other than exposure to tobacco smoke, Indigenous children hospitalised with asthma have similar asthma severity, risk factors, length of hospitalisation and re-admissions compared with non-Indigenous children.
  • Unlike other common respiratory diseases requiring hospitalisation (e.g. bronchiolitis), biological factors are unlikely major contributory factors to the known gap in asthma outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children

Main publication: J Paediatr Child Health. 2014;50(4):286-90

Lead investigator
Dr Gabrielle McCallum
Chief investigator
Professor Anne Chang
Project period