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    Solving the ineffective acne consult

    In a research letter accepted for publication on April 11, 2016 but not yet published in the British Journal of Dermatology, U.K. researchers report on their survey of patients, carers and health care staff which reveals that patients may have concerns with acne consultations.  

    In the paper, “Ineffective consultations for acne: What is important to patients?” the authors also offer potential solutions for how doctors can make those consultations more effective.

    More than a cosmetic nuisance

    The big picture of acne is changing; yet there is little research about patients’ experiences related to medical consultations for acne.

    The prevalence of acne is increasing. Often seen as a disease of adolescence, acne is becoming more prevalent in adults and is starting earlier. Skin conditions are one of the most frequent reasons for people seeking healthcare advice; yet, there is no conclusive data on patterns of help seeking behavior in acne, according to a collective response to questions from Dermatology Times by authors Fiona Cowdell, R.N., at University of Hull, Hull, UK; Alison Layton, M.D., consultant dermatologist and associate medical director for research and development, at the Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust; Nick Levell, M.D., director of dermatology, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust; Matthew J Ridd, M.D., consultant senior lecturer in primary health care, University of Bristol; and patient representative Charlotte Jones.

    READ SIDEBAR: 14 tips for more effective acne consults

    “International estimates suggest that around 17 percent to 40 percent of people with acne consult either a primary care physician or a dermatologist,” they write. “Acne, like many skin disorders, is far more than a ‘cosmetic nuisance’ and emotional manifestations may include anxiety and depression, anger, appearance related distress and suicidal ideation. The impact of these problems may be comparable with that experienced by people with disabling conditions, such as asthma, epilepsy and diabetes.”

    The emotional impact of acne, they say, doesn’t always correlate with acne’s apparent severity. There may be discrepancies between physician and patient perceptions of disease severity. And while many people seek treatment, there are indications that a proportion of people do not, instead suffering in silence from the skin disease, according to the authors.

    NEXT: Getting answers and key messages for providers

    Lisette Hilton
    Lisette Hilton is president of Words Come Alive, based in Boca Raton, Florida.

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