Acne (syn: acne vulgaris) ranks as the most common inflammatory dermatosis treated worldwide. Acne typically affects adolescents at a time when they are undergoing maximum physical and social transitions, although prevalence studies suggest it is starting earlier and lasting longer, particularly in female patients. According to global burden of disease studies, acne causes significant psychosocial impact. Hence, identifying mechanisms to accurately measure the impact of the disease is important. Adopting an approach to harmonize and standardize measurements is now recognized as an essential part of any clinical evaluation and allows for better comparison across studies and meta-analyses.
The Acne Core Outcome Research Network (ACORN) has identified relevant domains as part of a core outcome set of measures for use in clinical studies. One of these is health-related quality of life (HRQoL). The aim of this systematic review was to provide information to inform the identification of the impacts most important to people with acne.
A synthesis of available evidence on acne impacts was constructed from a systematic review of the literature, with searches conducted in the MEDLINE, EMBASE and PsychInfo databases.
We identified 408 studies from 58 countries using 138 different instruments to detect the impacts of acne. Four of the five most commonly used instruments (Dermatology Life Quality Index [DLQI], Cardiff Acne Disability Index [CADI], Acne Quality of Life scale [Acne-QoL], Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale [HADS] and Skindex-29) do not identify specific impacts but rather quantify to what extent acne affects HRQoL. Other studies identified one or more impacts using open-ended questions or tailor-made questionnaires.
This review serves as a rich data source for future efforts by groups such as ACORN (that include patients and health care providers) to develop a core set of outcome measurements for use in clinical trials.