Disease Severity and Quality of Life Measurements in Contact Dermatitis: A Systematic Review 2005–2015

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Contact dermatitis (CD) has been assessed by numerous disease severity indices resulting in heterogeneity across published research.


This study aims to evaluate published CD severity scales and identify a criterion standard for assessment.


Scopus and Ovid MEDLINE were searched for human randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on CD severity measures published during a 10-year period. Eligible studies were English-language RCTs reporting disease severity outcome measures for CD in humans. Studies were excluded if they were duplicates, not available in English, not related to CD, not RCTs, not conducted on human subjects, or did not report relevant outcome measures.


A total of 22 disease outcome measures were used in 81 included RCTs. Instrument-based measures were used in 40 (49.4%) studies, and visual assessments were used in 66 (81.5%) RCTs. Only 5 (6.2%) studies reported quality of life (QoL) outcomes. Two (2.5%) studies used a clinical severity scale, which combined both QoL and visual assessments.


This study was limited by the exclusion of non-RCTs and gray literature.


Wide variation in CD outcome measures exists including instrument-based measures, visual assessments, and QoL outcomes. A standardized outcome measure must be generated to reduce heterogeneity.

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