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Summary

Background  Patient education in addition to standard treatment, with the aim of affecting care through courses, is a relatively new concept in dermatology. Here we introduce a randomized controlled trial (RCT) regarding a previously described 12-week educational programme for chronic skin diseases.

Objectives  The primary objective of the RCT was to measure the effect of an educational programme on disease severity and quality of life in patients with psoriasis or atopic dermatitis.

Methods  We recruited 50 patients from Ghent University Hospital. Patients with diagnosed psoriasis or atopic dermatitis were randomized (1 : 1) to the intervention or control group. The clinical outcome was measured by two blinded observers using the Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI), Scoring Atopic Dermatitis or the Eczema Area and Severity Index. Quality of life was measured by dermatology-specific quality-of-life questionnaires. There was a follow-up period of 9 months.

Results  We found that disease severity and quality of life improved significantly for patients with psoriasis (n = 29) but not for patients with atopic dermatitis (n = 21) at 3 months. Patients in the intervention group showed a significant reduction in mean PASI (P = 0·036), mean Dermatology Life Quality Index (P = 0·019) and mean Psoriasis Disability Index (P = 0·015), compared with the control group at 3 months. This improvement continued for at least 6 months, i.e. 3 months after the intervention, but was lost at follow-up after 9 months.

Conclusions  Evaluating this form of educational programme, by means of a single-centre RCT, indicates its added value in the longer term management of psoriasis.