Research shows Pakistanis most likely to be hospitalised in Scotland

Dr Samantha Walker is Executive Director, Research & Policy at Asthma UK
Dr Samantha Walker is Executive Director, Research & Policy at Asthma UK
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Ethnic origin can significantly influence whether someone is likely to need hospital treatment for asthma, a major Scottish study has found.

Ethnic origin can significantly influence whether someone is likely to need hospital treatment for asthma, a major Scottish study has found.

Using census data from more than 4.5 million people across Scotland, Edinburgh University experts found that people of Pakistani origin were 50 per cent more likely to be hospitalised for asthma compared with white Scottish patients, while people of Chinese origin were 40 per cent less likely to be admitted to hospital than their white Scots peers.

The significant differences between hospitalisation rates may be caused by lack of awareness about the condition, greater severity of the disease or differences in the quality of care, the study published yesterday in BMC Medicine journal found.

Prof Raj Bhopal, professor of Public Health at Edinburgh University’s Usher Institute, said that the ethnic difference could not be only due to country of birth or low socio-economic status.

He said: “This study of over 4.5 million people has clearly shown there are major variations in the risk of asthma admission between ethnic groups. Much more detective work is required to unravel the causes of these ethnic variations and, in particular, understand why the Chinese origin population does so well in comparison with other ethnic groups.”

It is hoped the pilot study shows potential for greater research into explaining ethnic variations in health.

Charity campaigners welcomed the findings, which they said could have a significant impact on the 368,000 Scots receiving treatment for asthma.

Dr Samantha Walker, director of Research and Policy at Asthma UK, said the study looked at 92 per cent of the Scottish population. She added: ““Tragically, the lives of three families are devastated by the death of a loved one to an asthma attack every day.

“The reasons for the differences in this study need more research.”

Irene Johnstone, head of the British Lung Foundation in Scotland and Northern Ireland, said: “These are fascinating findings. Further research is now needed to understand why these variations occur, whether these patterns hold true in other UK nations and how we might use this understanding to make improvements for people living with lung disease.”