School Absences Due to Asthma

California Breathing analyzed data from the 2007 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) to estimate the total number of school days missed due to asthma, and the percent of school-aged children with asthma who missed school due to asthma in the past year. In total, school-aged children (ages 5-17) in California missed an estimated 1.47 million days due to asthma in the past year. However, a small percentage of children with asthma account for the majority of these absences. Nearly one in four children with asthma missed at least one day of school due to their asthma, and about seven percent missed five or more days. On average, a child with asthma missed 1.2 days of school (95% CI: 0.9-1.5); among those who missed any days because of their asthma, the average was 5.1 missed days (95% CI: 4.2-6.0). These results are outlined below.

absences_graphSchool Days Missed Due to Asthma among California Children with Asthma

(Ages 5-17), 2007

Nearly one in four children age 5-17 with asthma missed at least one day of school in the past year because of their asthma. About 7 percent missed five or more days. On average, a child with asthma missed 1.2 days of school. Among those who missed any days because of their asthma, the average was 5.1 missed days. In total, California children with asthma missed an estimated 1.47 million school days due to asthma in the past year

Data Source: CHIS 2007

 

Available data on school absences due to asthma

Finding data on the number of school absences due to asthma, and the resulting financial costs, is problematic. Most schools do not have a uniform way of recording school absences, nor do they note the specific reason for medical absences. This makes it impossible to systematically track asthma-related absences in California at this time, other than to create estimates from self- or parent-reported survey data as is done with the CHIS data above.

Do students with asthma miss more school than their peers?

There is no doubt that many students with asthma miss school days due to their illness, and this is burdensome for children, families, and schools. However, the extent to which asthma affects attendance is unclear. Many studies have linked asthma and other chronic diseases with absenteeism, but most of these studies are not generalizable because of small sample size or the absence of a control group. Furthermore, results are inconsistent among studies. Further research is needed to fully explain the association between asthma and school absenteeism. 

Methods

Data were obtained from the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), conducted by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. The CHIS is a statewide telephone survey administered to over 50,000 households. Teens (ages 12-17) were asked, “Has a doctor ever told you that you have asthma?” and “During the past 12 months, how many days of school did you miss due to asthma?” Information on asthma for children (ages 5-11 in this analysis) was gathered through an adult using the questions, “Has a doctor ever told you that your child has asthma?” and “During the past 12 months, how many days of day care or school did (CHILD) miss due to asthma?” (http://www.chis.ucla.edu). The questions about missed school or day care are only asked of children who currently attend school or day care. For more information, please contact .

Suggested Citation: California Breathing. California Department of Public Health. (2010). California Asthma Quick Facts: School Absences Due to Asthma. Retrieved from http://www.californiabreathing.org