Background Do patch test results vary from one part of the USA to another? Few reports directly compare the results of patch testing across centers within the USA.
Objectives Our objective was to compare results of patch testing from three geographically disparate Mayo Clinic sites in the USA to ascertain whether there are any differences in allergic patch test rates.
Methods We retrospectively reviewed patch test results for patients tested with a standard allergen series using our enterprise-wide protocol for patch testing. We compared data collected from January 1, 2001, through to December 31, 2007, from our practice sites in the Midwest, Southwest, and Southeast regions of the USA.
Results In total, 5063 patients underwent patch testing. The mean (standard deviation) number of allergens tested per patient was 70.3 (3.8) (range: 10–87; interquartile range: 68–73). Analyses were conducted separately for 72 allergens with positive reactions from at least 20 patients. Risk-adjusted positive reaction rates (RAPRRs) for 44 allergens differed significantly (P < 0.05) among the geographic sites; RAPRRs differed significantly across all three sites for 11 allergens and between two of the three sites for 33 allergens.
Conclusions Allergic patch test rates differed among our three practice sites for many allergens. It is likely that many factors contributed to these observed differences, including variations in the population undergoing patch testing, variations in allergen exposure, and variations in climate.