Educational Program Describes Health Care Provider, Patient Gaps in Knowledge of Atopic Dermatitis

A study found that there are areas of miscommunication between health care professionals and patients/caregivers related to atopic dermatitis (AD) burden disease, therapeutic approaches, and treatment goals that need to be addressed via education. The results of the study were published as part of the American Academy of Dermatology Virtual Meeting Experience 2020.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America partnered with PlatformQ Health Education to create shared decision-making online educational programs for healthcare providers and patients/caregivers to identify gaps in care and understanding.

The researchers conducted knowledge-focused tests at three time points: pre-activity, immediately post-activity, and two months post-activity. Behavioral and communication-focused questions were also asked at two months post-activity. Data from these questions, live polling responses, and learner-submitted questions were also assessed. Program involvement included 1,200 health care providers (79% of whom were MDs, nurse practitioners, or physician assistants) and 5,300 patients/caregivers.

Knowledge of AD manifestations immediately before and two months after the educational program increased from 70% to 79% for patients/caregivers and from 72% to 93% for healthcare providers.

A large proportion of healthcare providers reported believing that AD can be cured with drugs alone, which the researchers said indicates “that they undervalue the benefit of behavioral approaches.” Healthcare providers also tended to overestimate patient treatment adherence and had a low ability to utilize new targeted treatment approaches.

Both health care providers and patients/caregivers demonstrated low ability to understand the pathophysiology of AD. Among health care providers, “this low knowledge combined with low knowledge of monitoring requirements for AD therapies may contribute to their hesitancy in using targeted agents,” the researchers offered. For patients/caregivers, “this reinforces the findings of low communication between the caregivers and patients and healthcare providers,” they noted.

Patient/caregivers had higher awareness of new AD treatments and they showed a high level of awareness about behavioral strategies for AD symptom management. The study suggested that patients/caregivers tend to overuse steroids to control their condition. Patients/caregivers reported valuing shared decision-making for their disease management.

Two months after the educational program, 87% of health care providers said the activity had a positive impact on their clinical practice, while 56% of patients/caregivers said the program had an impact on communication with their health care providers. Only about half of patients/caregivers (49%) said the program resulted in improvements in health-related behavior.

Additional educational opportunities are needed for both cohorts, according to the study authors.

Drexel C, Turell W, Eftekhari S, et al. Missed Opportunities for Shared Decision-Making Among Patients with Atopic Dermatitis and Their Clinicians. Presented during the AAD Virtual Meeting Experience 2020, June 12-14, 2020.