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J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2012 May;26 Suppl 3:61-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-3083.2012.04525.x.

Adherence to topical treatment in psoriasis: a systematic literature review.

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  • 1Dermatology Department, Paul Sabatier University, Toulouse, France.



Treatment adherence has been recognized as an important issue in the management of chronic diseases such as psoriasis.


The aim of this work was to analyse data about topical treatment adherence in psoriasis.


Systematic literature review (62 references) between 1980 and 2011 (database: PubMed, Embase and Cochrane; Mesh keywords: Patient Compliance [Mesh] OR Medication Adherence [Mesh] AND Psoriasis [Mesh]; limits: date of publication >1980, humans subjects, written in French or English, aged ≥ 19 years). Two parameters were evaluated: (i) the ratio of number of product applications performed vs. number of applications expected according to physician recommendations, (ii) the ratio of amount of product used vs. amount of product prescribed.


A total of 22 studies were selected. Nine studies reported on the frequency of topical treatment application in a real world setting. Five studies showed a frequency of applications varying between 50% and 60% of those expected. Because of the high variability in medication adherence assessment methods, the data could not be combined. Twelve articles reported on the frequency of topical treatment application in randomized controlled trials with adherence varying between 55% and 100%. Concerning the amount of product use, four studies showed patients applied between 35% and 72% of the recommended dose during a treatment period of 14 days to 8 weeks. The most frequently mentioned reasons for non-adherence to topical treatment were low efficacy, time consumption and poor cosmetic characteristics of topical agents. Patients experiencing adherence issues were significant younger, were men, had younger age at onset of psoriasis and had a higher self-assessed severity. To improve adherence, the following strategies were suggested: to give patients information about psoriasis, to recognize social impact, to give written instructions for use such as a care plan, to explain side effects of topical therapies, to choose treatment and its cosmetic properties in agreement with the patient.


Literature data about topical treatment adherence are heterogeneous and scarce. They confirm the limited topical treatment adherence in psoriasis in real life, much lower than what is reported in randomized controlled trials. Therapeutic education and clear instructions on the use of topical agents are necessary to improve adherence. Studies are needed to identify predictors of limited adherence and to identify interventions improving adherence to topical medications in psoriasis.

© 2012 The Authors. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology © 2012 European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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