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The British Association of Dermatologists audit of atopic eczema management in secondary care. Phase 3: audit of service outcome

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Service outcome was examined by a preconsultation (part 1) and a 6-week postconsultation (part 2) patient questionnaire in 29 hospital dermatology departments randomly selected from an original sample of 187 centres across the U.K. The outcome measures were: quality of life as measured by the Dermatology Life Quality Index (DLQI) and Children’s DLQI (CDLQI), improvement in sleep loss, improvement in worse aspect of skin disease and return to work or school. Three hundred and fifty-two questionnaires (115 adults, 237 children) were completed for part 1, and 235 (67%) replied to part 2. The mean DLQI at initial consultation was 12·5, dropping to 9·7 at 6 weeks (P = 0·001). The mean CDLQI at initial consultation was 10·5, dropping to 8·7 at 6 weeks (P < 0·001). Forty-nine per cent of adults and 44% of children had a > 25% relative improvement in score, which did not meet the 60% working standard. Forty-four per cent of adults and 47% of children had an improvement in sleep loss at 6 weeks, falling short of the 70% working standard. Sixty-one per cent of adults and 59% of children had an improvement in the worst aspect of their skin condition at 6 weeks, falling short of the 80% working standard. Of the 20 adults and eight children off work/school during part 1, 70% of adults and 87·5% of children had returned to work/school by 6 weeks. This met the 80% working standard for children but not for adults. On a national scale, only one of the eight working standards for service outcome was met, although most of the working standards were met by at least one of the 11 National Health Service administrative areas. This study presents the first national data on the outcomes of a representative sample of atopic eczema patients seen in secondary care. Small sample sizes, instruments which may be insensitive to change, as well as local factors such as case-mix, baseline severity and staff to patient ratios need to be taken into account when interpreting these results. Nevertheless, the results of this baseline audit suggest that the outcome of patients with atopic eczema following secondary care consultation may not be as good as some doctors believe. This suggests that an improvement in practice, a re-evaluation of the working standards, or both, is needed and should be examined in future audit cycles.
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Keywords: British Association of Dermatologists; atopic eczema; audit; therapy

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Dermatology, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Glossop Road, Sheffield S10 2JF, U.K. 2: Dermato-Epidemiology Research Unit and 3: Health Audit and Resource Centre, Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham NG7 2UH, U.K.

Publication date: April 1, 2000

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