Assessment of severity of hand eczema: discrepancies between patient- and physician-rated scores

A. M. van Coevorden, E. van Sonderen, J. Bouma, P. J. Coenraads*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Background In clinical practice or trials on hand eczema the severity of this disease can be 'measured' in different ways: by means of a physician-rated clinical severity score, a patient-rated clinical severity score or by an indicator of the burden of disease. We assume that the patient-rated severity score corresponds more with the (change in) burden of disease than with the physician-rated severity score.

Objectives To demonstrate how physicians and patients differ in their assessment of the severity of hand eczema as seen in a physician-rated severity score, patientrated severity score and a burden of disease questionnaire.

Methods We used data from an open-label randomized controlled trial which was set up in two university hospital dermatology departments in the Netherlands, specializing in hand eczema. One hundred and fifty-eight patients with moderate to severe chronic hand eczema were included. The main outcome measures were the physician-rated severity score, based on five visible aspects of hand eczema (desquamation, erythema, vesicles, infiltration, fissures), the patient-rated severity score (a self-rating scale), a burden of disease questionnaire (the Dermatology Life Quality Index, DLQI) and the correlations between these parameters, both at inclusion and over time.

Results Only desquamation and infiltration were significantly correlated with patient-rated severity score. Patient-rated severity score correlated with seven of 10 DLQI items, but it did not correlate with the items regarding influence on clothes worn, impairment of sporting activities, and problems associated with treatment of the skin. The majority of patients showed improvement in all parameters after treatment. However, the improvement in patient-rated severity score was not clearly correlated with changes in physician-rated severity score. Except for DLQI item I (itch, soreness, pain, stinging), none of the changes in burden of disease was correlated with changes in patient-rated severity score. For each DLQI item, change over time correlated weakly with decreases in several, but not all, components of the physician-rated severity score.

Conclusions Disease severity can be expressed by different scores; these scores are not clearly correlated, and measure different aspects. Patient satisfaction is not guaranteed when treatment is focused solely on the visible aspects of hand eczema. Instead, burden of disease has a greater impact.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1217-1222
Number of pages6
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2006


  • burden of disease
  • hand eczema
  • severity score

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