Background: Patients with multiple actinic keratoses (AKs) should be treated with field-directed therapy. Such treatments challenge patients’ adherence due to out-of-pocket costs, length of treatment and severity of local skin reactions (LSRs). Effective physician–patient communication (PPC) may buffer therapy-related distress, thus improving quality of life, treatment satisfaction and adherence. Objectives: We evaluated the interplay between PPC, LSR intensity (safety) and lesion clearance rates (effectiveness) on treatment satisfaction, quality of life and treatment adherence among patients with multiple AKs receiving topical field-directed therapies. Methods: In this observational, multicentre, longitudinal, cohort study, we included 1136 adult patients with discrete, clinically detectable, visible, multiple (three or more lesions in a 25 cm2 area), Grade I/II AKs, for whom the attending dermatologist has prescribed treatment with a topical field-directed therapy. We matched self-reported data and medical information recorded by dermatologists in standard clinical forms. Patients were followed up at two time points (T1: 8 days; T2: 25–30 days). Results: Most patients were elderly, married, men with poor socio-economic status and multiple lesions of the scalp or face. The majority (n = 961) had a prescription of ingenol mebutate (IMB) and 175 received either diclofenac 3% in hyaluronic acid (DHA) or imiquimod 5% (IMQ). Clearance rate at 1 month was 84%. Most patients felt very supported (n = 819, 73%) and rated dermatologist's explanations very clear (n = 608, 54%). Treatment satisfaction (effectiveness and convenience scales) increased along the follow-up, especially for those on IMB (Δpre-post = −4.00; other: Δpre-post = −0.25; interaction P < 0.001). Communication clarity was associated with higher treatment satisfaction scores (β = 0.4–0.6, P < 0.01) and lower risk of non-adherence among IMB patients (risk difference: 16%, P < 0.01). Conclusion: Communication clarity was associated with patient-reported outcomes and adherence beyond AK-related clinical parameters. Our study questions the current episodic approach to AK management and provides the rationale to develop chronic care models fostering patients’ engagement and treatment alliance.
- Infectious Diseases