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Massachusetts Department of Public Health seal Massachusetts Environmental Public Health Tracking

Asthma Hospitalization

Picture of man wearing a nebulizer mask
  • -1 = Data not shown when case counts < 11. These small numbers are suppressed to protect privacy.
  • Unstable rates must be interpreted with caution. To see more detailed data with stability information, please use the Explore Maps & Tables link on this page.

Hospitalization for asthma occurs due to several factors including uncontrolled asthma conditions, limited access to health care services, and/or inadequate medical treatment practices.

Causes of asthma are unknown. However, episodes of asthma (asthma attacks) can be triggered by certain environmental pollutants such as air pollution, mold, pets/pet dander, and dust mites. A number of studies have reported links between being exposed to air pollution and asthma. Reducing exposure to these pollutants can help prevent symptoms. Many other factors are also linked with asthma. Therefore, when comparing rates across geographic areas, factors such as access to medical care and health behaviors (e.g., diet or exercise) must also be considered.

Did You Know?
In the northeastern US, summer ozone pollution has been associated with contributing a substantial portion (up to 20%) of hospital visits and admissions per year for asthma and other respiratory emergencies. Source: U.S. EPA 2006

Data on hospitalization visits are collected by the Massachusetts Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA) from all acute care hospitals and satellite emergency facilities in the state. CHIA collects information on all inpatient hospital admissions and emergency department (ED) visits.

MDPH analyzes these data and provides asthma hospitalization rates for adults and children of all ages for both inpatient hospital admissions and ED visits. Some asthma patients enter the hospital through an ED, but are later admitted to the hospital as inpatients. These patients are included in both the ED visit and inpatient hospitalization rates.

Data Considerations

When reviewing and interpreting asthma hospitalization data, it is important to take into consideration the following:

  • Hospitalization data, by definition, exclude discharges from specialty hospitals (e.g., psychiatric), long-term care facilities, and federal hospitals that are exempt from state reporting requirements.
  • Asthma hospitalization data do not include individuals who do not receive medical care or who are not hospitalized, including those who die in emergency rooms, in nursing homes, or at home without being admitted to a hospital, and those treated in outpatient settings.
  • Transfers from one hospital to another may be included in the dataset as separate hospitalization events.
  • Emergency department data include all asthma hospitalizations that originated in an ED, including those later admitted as inpatients. For this reason, there is overlap between the two datasets and many patients are included in both the inpatient and ED hospitalization data reported on this site. Asthma counts and rates should, therefore, not be summed across the two measures of hospitalization.
  • Numbers and rates may differ slightly from those contained in other publications. These differences may be due to file updates, differences in calculation methods (such as grouping ages differently or rounding off numbers at different points in calculations), and updates or differences in population estimates.
  • Hospitalization data are validated through a process of automated editing and report verification. In addition, each record is subjected to a series of edits that check for duplicate records, accuracy, consistency, completeness, and conformity.
  • Data will only be presented to the public if the confidentiality rules of MDPH and CHIA are met. These are rules requiring data aggregation and cell suppression to protect privacy.
  • Rates are based on the residential location of cases and not necessarily the location where incidents occur.

For additional information, please read the FAQ.

Available Data on Asthma Hospitalization

Use the Explore Maps & Tables link on this page to access the following measures for Asthma Hospitalization in your community on the right toolbar. The most current available data will be shown. Be sure to check the site periodically as new data are added each year.

To protect privacy, no information is shown that could identify an individual.

  • Summary statistics (minimum, maximum, and average number) for monthly hospitalizations for asthma
  • Age-specific hospitalization rates for asthma
  • Crude and age-adjusted hospitalization rates for asthma
  • Explore data in tables, charts, and maps
  • All of the measures above are available by community, county, and statewide

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