Effects of structured patient education in adults with atopic dermatitis: Multicenter randomized controlled trial

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Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a chronic relapsing skin disease prevalent in 1% to 3% of adults in Western industrialized countries.


We sought to investigate the effectiveness of educational training in an outpatient setting on coping with the disease, quality of life, symptoms, and severity in adults with AD.


In this German prospective, randomized controlled multicenter study, adult patients with moderate-to-severe AD were educated by referring to a comprehensive 12-hour training manual consented by a multiprofessional study group from different centers (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Neurodermitisschulung für Erwachsene [ARNE]). Patients were randomly allocated to the intervention or waiting control groups. Study visits were performed at baseline and after 1 year (1 year of follow-up). Primary outcomes were defined as a decrease in (1) “catastrophizing cognitions” with respect to itching (Juckreiz-Kognitions-Fragebogen questionnaire), (2) “social anxiety” (Marburger Hautfragebogen questionnaire), (3) subjective burden by symptoms of the disease (Skindex-29 questionnaire), and (4) improvement of disease signs and symptoms assessed by using the SCORAD index at 1 year of follow-up. Data were analyzed on an intention-to-treat basis.


At 1 year of follow-up, patients from the intervention group (n = 168) showed a significantly better improvement compared with the waiting group (n = 147) in the following defined primary study outcomes: coping behavior with respect to itching (P < .001), quality of life assessed by using the Skindex-29 questionnaire (P < .001), and the SCORAD index (P < .001).


This is the first randomized, controlled multicenter study on patient education in adult AD. The ARNE training program shows significant beneficial effects on a variety of psychosocial parameters, as well as AD severity.

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