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Approved Research

Investigating disparities in healthcare outcomes for patients with asthma

Principal Investigator: Mrs Charlene Redmond
Approved Research ID: 75745
Approval date: February 24th 2022

Lay summary

Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition affecting more than 300 million people worldwide, causing symptoms of wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness.  It has also been associated with reduced a quality of life, time off from work or school, the development of treatment-related comorbidities (other medical conditions which are the side effects of asthma treatment), emergency healthcare use and in some cases death. These outcomes however are not evenly spread among the population, with research to date showing poorer outcomes depending on the patients age, sex, ethnicity and socioeconomic status. In the USA for example, it has been shown that patients from lower socio-economic backgrounds are more likely to visit the emergency department for asthma treatment when compared to their more affluent counterparts. Like this example, most of the research in this area has been conducted in the USA and is therefore not always directly comparable to the UK due to differences in population ethnic diversity and how the healthcare system is organised and accessed. Further evidence from the UK is required to better understand the inequalities that exist here, which is an important first step in identifying ways to address them.

Our primary aims are to use the data from the UK biobank to generate UK based measures of disparities, as well as identifying lifestyle, environmental and social factors that contribute to them. Additional aims include investigating different ways to measure socioeconomic status, as well as calculating ethnically appropriate peak flow reference curves for the UK population.

It is anticipated that our project will take between two to three years to be completed due to the multiple research aims incorporated, with academic papers released as each aim is fulfilled.

We believe our research will have an important impact on public health by providing tangible evidence of inequalities in the current system and highlighting areas in which interventions could be targeted. The COVID pandemic has, in recent times, shed new light on healthcare disparities within the UK and there is now a clear public interest in understanding and tackling these issues. Our exploration of how deprivation is measured will inform future research techniques, while the development of ethnically adjusted lung function reference values will facilitate better respiratory research throughout the UK.