Use of specific immunotherapy – a survey of 15 164 employed persons in Germany

Authors

  • Tobias Weberschock,

    Corresponding author
    1. Klinik für Dermatologie, ­Venerologie und Allergologie, University Hospital Frankfurt, Germany
    2. Arbeitsgruppe Evidenzbasierte ­Medizin, Institut für Allgemeinmedizin, University Hospital Frankfurt, Germany
    • Correspondence to

      Dr. med. Tobias Weberschock, MSc (Epi)

      Klinik für Dermatologie

      Venerologie und Allergologie

      Universitätsklinikum Frankfurt

      Theodor-Stern-Kai 7

      60590 Frankfurt

      E-mail: Tobias.Weberschock@kgu.de

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  • Ines Schaefer,

    1. Competence Center for Health Services Research in Dermatology ­(CVderm), University Medical ­Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany
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  • Hagen Heigel,

    1. Heigel GmbH, Hanstedt, Germany
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  • Eva Valesky,

    1. Klinik für Dermatologie, ­Venerologie und Allergologie, University Hospital Frankfurt, Germany
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  • Matthias Augustin,

    1. Competence Center for Health Services Research in Dermatology ­(CVderm), University Medical ­Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany
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  • Jochen Schmitt

    1. Center for Evidence-Based Healthcare, University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus, Technical University Dresden, Germany
    2. Universitäts AllergieCentrum, University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus, Technical University Dresden, Germany
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  • Jochen Schmitt received funding by ALK and Novartis for investigator iniated research. Otherwise none.

Summary

Background

The high prevalence of allergic rhinitis (AR) leads to high morbidity and costs. Specific immunotherapy (SIT) is a potentially curative therapy for AR. The ­decision whether or not to employ SIT is often not totally clear.

Patients and methods

In 2012/13, as part of company skin cancer screening ­programs, employed persons between the ages of 16–70 were asked about use of allergy-related medications and atopic conditions, as well as the use of SIT or possible reasons preventing its use.

Results

Of the 15,164 persons surveyed, 26.2% (n = 3,966) reported they had allergies that might benefit from SIT therapy. Of these, only 31.7% (n = 1,470) had undergone SIT therapy, with 63.3% (n = 931) describing the treatment as successful. The main reasons given for not undergoing SIT were relatively minor symptoms (51.2%; n = 1,278), little confidence in the success of therapy, and lack of time (12%; n = 300). Only 5.2%, n = 129) stated that avoiding allergens was sufficient or that they could not undergo SIT because of other health problems. Another 5.2% (n = 130) said they had either not heard of SIT, or had not found a place to undergo treatment.

Conclusions

Although about one-quarter of respondents reported allergies that might benefit from SIT, less than one-third had undergone treatment. The main ­reason was having mild symptoms; guideline or healthcare-related issues were ­responsible only to a limited extent.

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