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03-11-2011 | Dermatology | Article

Internet may help improve acne medication adherence in teenagers


Free abstract

MedWire News: A web-based survey may help motivate teenagers with acne to use their medication more often, suggest study results.

"Dermatologists have a number of effective topical agents for acne treatment, but patients often do not use their medications as prescribed," commented study author Steven Feldman (Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA) in a press statement.

"Medication use by teens tends to increase around the time of office visits, but this isn't helpful," he said.

As teenagers are generally regular internet users, Feldman and team assessed whether a weekly internet-based communication could help young people with acne to improve their medication adherence.

In total, 20 boys and girls between the age of 13 and 18 years who had mild-to-moderate acne were prescribed topical benzoyl peroxide 5% gel daily for 12 weeks. In addition, they were randomly assigned to a group receiving a weekly email survey or a control group receiving no email communication.

The survey consisted of questions such as how many days did you apply the drug this week? How easy was it for you to use the drug? Did using the drug interfere with your daily routine? And, Have you had any side effects?

As an additional incentive, those in the survey group received a US$ 5.00 (€3.63) gift card to for completion of at least 5 surveys during a 6 week period.

The researchers measured adherence using electronic medication caps that recorded the date and time they were opened. The patients were not aware of this monitoring until they were informed on their last study clinic visit.

As reported in the Archives of Dermatology, Feldman et al found that adherence was 89% in the internet survey group and 33% in the control group, a significant between group difference.

"Adolescents are savvy users of the Internet and other newer technologies, and we found they responded well to the online survey," Feldman explained.

"We believe the weekly survey may have served as a 'virtual office visit.' Increasing our understanding of what is needed to get teens to use the medication as prescribed will provide better treatment outcomes for patients."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Helen Albert

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