Internet Survey May Increase Medication Adherence for Teenagers with Acne

Medication adherence among teenagers with acne may be improved with the addition of an Internet-based survey, according to the results of a new study from researchers at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

Lead author Steve Feldman, MD, PhD, of the Center for Dermatology Research and the departments of dermatology, pathology and public health sciences at Wake Forest, and colleagues enlisted 20 male and female participants, age 13 to 18 years, with mild to moderate acne. Participants were prescribed topical benzoyl peroxide 5% gel for 12 weeks, and randomized 1:1 to a control group or an Internet survey group. Individuals in the Internet survey group were sent a weekly e-mail with a survey link, which assessed acne severity and treatment. Participants in the Internet group answered six questions about how they used their medication.

In both groups, medication adherence was monitored with electronic devices that recorded the date and time that the medication container was opened. The mean adherence rate in the Internet group was 89% and 33% in the control group. Acne severity was assessed with a rating scale and a lesion count of both inflammatory and non-inflammatory lesions; these ratings took place at the beginning of the study and again at weeks 6 and 12.

“Adolescents are savvy users of the Internet and other newer technologies, and we found they responded well to the online survey,” Dr. Feldman said. “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.”

Co-authors on the study are Brad A. Yentzer, MD, Jenna L. O’Neill, MD, Ashley A. Wood, BA, Adele R. Clark, PA-C, Lisa L. Williams, CRC, Matthew J. Sagransky, BS, all of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Results were also published in the October issue of Archives of Dermatology.