Asthma and self-harm: A population-based cohort study in Taiwan

Vincent Chin Hung Chen, Tsu Nai Wang, Yin To Liao, Tzu Chin Lin, Robert Stewart, Charles Tzu Chi Lee*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Few studies have investigated the relationship between asthma and suicidality-related outcomes in the world. We sought to investigate the association between asthma and risk of non-fatal self-harm in a large national sample. Methods: Cases aged 10. years and over were identified from Taiwan's National Health Insurance Research Database with a new primary diagnosis of asthma (ICD-9:493) between 2000 and 2008. Case status required the presence of any inpatient diagnosis of asthma and/or at least two recorded diagnoses and 1. year duration of asthma in outpatient services. These 27,781 cases were compared to 138,905 sex- and age-matched controls and both groups were followed until end of 2008 for instances of self-harm, defined as ICD-9 codes E950-E959 (self-harm causes) and E980-E989 (undetermined causes). Competing risk adjusted Cox regression analyses were applied, adjusting for sex, age, residence (urban/rural), insurance premium, episode of psychiatric disease, montelukast, Charlson comorbidity index and mortality. Results: Of the 166,686 subjects, 445 carried out self-harm during a mean (SD) follow-up period of 5.84 (2.35) years. Asthma (hazard ratio = 1.70, 95% CI: 1.35-2.14), age, residence, episode of psychiatric disease and Charlson comorbidity index were independent risks on self-harm in the fully adjusted model. Conclusions: Asthma was associated with increased risk of self-harm in this population, independent of a number of potential confounding factors including montelukast use. This reinforces the need to consider mental health in routine asthma care, and to consider asthma as a potentially important stressor in people with comorbid mental disorder.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)462-467
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Dec 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Asthma
  • Charlson comorbidity index
  • Psychiatric disease
  • Self-harm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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