Evaluation of the influence of family and friends, and the internet on patient perceptions of long-term topical corticosteroid use

Background: Topical corticosteroids (TCS) are key to managing chronic inflammatory dermatoses (CID). Parents/patients cite TCS phobia as an impediment to treatment adherence. Family/friends and the Internet are sources of misinformation on TCS which can negatively impact perceptions of TCS safety.
Purpose: To assess information from family/friends and the Internet, as related to and reported by patients/parents using long-term TCS.
Methods: A multicenter cross-sectional survey of patients (aged 18+) and parents of patients (aged <18) with a history of CID requiring long-term (≥ 1 month) TCS use assessing messages about TCS received from family/friends and the Internet.
Results: A total of 123 patients and 78 parents completed the survey (n=201). Parents/Patients were more likely to be informed by the Internet “[having] my [child’s] skin condition means that [I/he/she] will need to use topical corticosteroids” (p <0.001) and that “inflamed skin conditions will improve with the topical corticosteroids” (p = 0.007). Family/Friends were more likely to recommend parents/patients “try non-prescription creams/ointments before resorting to the use of prescription topical corticosteroids” (p = 0.014).
Conclusions: High rates of messages about TCS ‘risk’ from family/friends and the Internet may affect patient/parent understanding about TCS safety. This may contribute to treatment non-adherence.

Dr. Lisa Farrugia