European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECHRS)

Current CAR investigators involved: CIs Abramson & Dharmage

The European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS) is one of the largest international studies of asthma and allergic diseases in adults. ECRHS I recruited 140,000 young adults aged between 20 and 44 years selected at random from available population based registers in 1991-93. Fifty six centres from 25 countries across Europe and other parts of the world participated. The cohort of young adults were comprehensively assessed for the presence of asthma, allergic disease, sensitisation to common allergens and lung function We established the only Australian centre in the ECRHS and have been part of the baseline (ECRHS I) as well as the follow-up study (ECRHS II).

The main findings of the first ECRHS were large geographic variations in the prevalence of asthma, atopy and bronchial responsiveness. The prevalences were higher in Australia and New Zealand than other English speaking centres and lowest in the Mediterranean region and Eastern Europe.
ECRHS II (1998-2003) was explicitly designed as a cohort study to determine the incidence and prognosis of asthma and other allergic diseases. Participants in ECRHS II reported more frequent asthma attacks and greater use of asthma medications, but perhaps surprisingly there was no net change in reported respiratory symptoms. Very similar findings were observed in Melbourne. At follow-up, over 1000 people had asthma and disease severity was associated with sensitisation to perennial allergens, older age of onset of asthma and chronic cough and sputum.

The ECRHS III aims to: (1) follow-up those who took part in ECRHS II and (2) repeat a cross-sectional survey of a population of the same age, currently living in the same area. The repeat cross-sectional survey will: (a) assess comparability of the survivor cohort with the current population; and (b) identify prevalent asthma cases that will be included in the study, increasing the number of asthmatics and therefore the power of the study for some proposed analyses in ECRHS III.

Click here to find out more