• asthma;
  • public health;
  • quality of life;
  • self-rated health


Introduction:  Self-rated health (SRH) is a relevant measure of health as it can predict morbidity, mortality and health-care use. Studies have shown an association between poor SRH and elevated levels of circulating inflammatory cytokines. It is therefore interesting to learn more about the association between asthma, a chronic inflammatory disease with a recognised systemic component and SRH.

Objectives:  To compare SRH ratings in respondents with and without current asthma. A second aim was to compare SRH with quality-of-life ratings in the same groups.

Methods:  In 1995, we randomly selected 8200 persons ≥18 years from the population of Stockholm County, Sweden and mailed them a questionnaire. A total of 5355 persons (67.5%) responded. Respondents were divided in two groups, those with and those without current asthma. The groups were further divided by sex and age (18–44 and ≥45 years). SRH was measured with the question ‘How do you rate your general health status?’ and quality of life with the Gothenburg Quality of Life Instrument and the Ladder of Life.

Results:  Respondents with asthma rated their health significantly worse than did those without asthma, except women aged 18–44 years. SRH was associated at least as strong as quality of life to asthma with the advantage of being easier to apply (only one item).

Conclusion:  Information on SRH is easy to obtain and represents an important dimension of health status that potentially can be used as a complement to identify patients who need extra attention to manage their asthma and its consequences.

Please cite this paper as: Syk J, Alving K and Undén A-L. Association between self-rated health and asthma: a population-based study. Clin Respir J 2012; 6: 150–158.