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Home ultraviolet B phototherapy for psoriasis: discrepancy between literature, guidelines, general opinions and actual use. Results of a literature review, a web search, and a questionnaire among dermatologists

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Summary Background 

Home ultraviolet B (UVB) phototherapy is a debated treatment. It is currently being prescribed for patients with psoriasis, although literature on the subject is scarce. Despite the apparent contradiction between clinical practice and literature, no systematic study of either has been conducted. Objectives 

To assess and compare the available publications and guidelines about home UVB phototherapy for psoriasis with the actual opinions and use of this therapy. Methods 

The literature and guidelines were searched using databases, search engines and e-mail. A postal survey of 343 Dutch dermatologists and 142 dermatologists from 32 other countries was carried out; 255 and 102 dermatologists respectively responded. Outcome measures were the reported advantages, drawbacks and prescription rates of home UVB phototherapy. Results 

Fourteen publications (nonrandomized) and six guidelines concerning home UVB phototherapy for psoriasis were identified. Most were reticent about the use of this treatment. Publications describing nonclinical research (7/14) reported most of the drawbacks mentioned (24/31). Home UVB phototherapy was prescribed to 5% (median) of all patients with psoriasis in the Netherlands who required UVB. However, 28% (68/244) of the Dutch dermatologists prescribed home UVB in 20 to 100% of their cases. Dermatologists from other countries reported that 0–10% of UVB treatments were offered at home. For both Dutch and other dermatologists, the most important reasons for prescribing home UVB concerned time and travel distance (80%, i.e. 163 of 205 and 75%, i.e. 33 of 44). Therapy-related drawbacks (such as poor service and equipment) were the objections mentioned most often (55%, i.e. 103 of 186 and 63%, i.e. 57 of 91). Concerns about the medicolegal liability of home UVB were rarely expressed by individual respondents, but frequently mentioned in the various reports. Conclusions 

A discrepancy exists between the actual use of home UVB phototherapy and the general opinions found in publications. The treatment is prescribed for a considerable number of patients despite the fact that literature and guidelines advise caution. Personal and nonevidence-based opinions on this therapy are widespread while randomized clinical studies have thus far not been conducted.
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Keywords: UVB; guidelines; home care; phototherapy; psoriasis; ultraviolet radiation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care (Str. 6.131), University Medical Center Utrecht, Heidelberglaan 100, 3584 CX Utrecht, The Netherlands

Publication date: 2006-04-01

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