Background Recently, the updated EAACI/GA2LEN/EDF/WAO guidelines for urticaria have been published.
Objective To examine how chronic spontaneous urticaria (csU) patients in Germany are diagnosed and treated, and to compare the outcome to the guideline recommendations.
Methods During this cross-sectional survey study, most dermatologists, paediatricians and 5149 general practitioners in private practice in Germany were asked to participate. All physicians who agreed were requested to complete a standardized questionnaire about their diagnostic and therapeutic management of csU.
Results A total of 776 questionnaires were available for analysis. Most physicians (82%) were attempting to identify underlying causes in their csU patients, but with only limited success. More than 70% reported to check for total serum IgE and to do skin prick testing (not suggested in first line by guideline). In contrast, only 10% applied the autologous serum skin test. The most common first-line treatments were non-sedating antihistamines in standard or higher doses (as recommended). However, many physicians reported still using first generation sedating antihistamines (23%) (not recommended) or systemic steroids (18%). Experience with alternative options was low. Less than one-third of the participants reported to be familiar with the guidelines. Those who did, were found to be more likely to check for underlying causes, to be more experienced with antihistamine updosing and to be more reluctant to use sedating antihistamines or systemic steroids.
Conclusion The diagnostic and therapeutic management of csU by private practice physicians does not sufficiently comply with the guidelines. Awareness of the guidelines can lead to improved care.