Rationale: Australian asthma rates are high by international standards causing greatest mortality amongst older adults.
This paper looks at the relationships between perceived self-efficacy (belief in oneself) to manage the physical discomfort or pain caused by asthma and also the emotional distress caused by asthma and: reported health status; asthma quality of life for both mood and breathlessness; asthma management practices; and emergency health care use for asthma in adults aged 55 years and over.
Methods: A 20 page survey exploring the health beliefs, behaviours and attitudes of older Australians, was mailed to 9,000 people, (response rate = 46.8%). Participants were recruited through a random sample obtained from the Australian Electoral Roll Office.
Results: Correlations show that people who reported high physical or emotional self-efficacy were more likely to report better health and quality of life. They were less likely to report that asthma had interfered with their day-to-day activities or that they had utilised emergency health care for asthma. Regular asthma reviews with their general practitioner, owning an asthma action plan, having received asthma education and regularly monitoring asthma control did not appear to be related to self-efficacy.
Summary: These results indicate that neither physical nor emotional self-efficacy are significantly correlated with popular asthma self-management strategies. However, both physical and emotional self-efficacy were significantly correlated with health rating, quality of life for breathlessness and mood and the impact of asthma on their day-to-day activities. Factors that increase older adults' asthma self-efficacy need to be further investigated.