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How People Decide if Acne Treatment is Effective

Prioritizing treatment outcomes: How people with acne vulgaris decide if their treatment is working.
Layton AM, Whitehouse H, Eady EA, Cowdell F, Warburton KL, Fenton M.
J Evid Based Med. 2017 Apr 26. doi: 10.1111/jebm.12249.

  • Goal: To measure what people consider an effective treatment for acne, 145 people with acne (PwA) took part, 897 answered the treatment was effective, and 742 fitted with possible outcomes:
    • More than a third said that there were fewer spots.
    • A fifth said it was less redness.
    • Around one in seven said it was a reduction in spot size and around the same proportion said it was a reduction in pain/discomfort.
  • How did patients observe changes ?
    • Looking at the skin was the most widely adopted way of assessing (16.3% of people) and Visual Signs were most considered. Symptoms were less used.
    • Quality of life was only infrequently mentioned


  1. objective measurements run in trials (lesion counts, severity) do not include measurements done by patients at a single point in time, which can include psychosocial well-being and mood. Further studies will need to take this into account.
  2. The authors use the term “People with Acne (PwA)” as Acne affects not only patients; many manage themselves and never see a doctor.

Study from UK, a quarter of those who responded lived outside of the UK

Article selected by Saurat JH, MD


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