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Factors related to treatment-seeking behavior among acne patients seen in a tertiary hospital in the Philippines: A cross-sectional study

Authors: Diane V. Lagda, MD, DPDS, Ricky H. Hipolito MD, DPDS, Ma. Teresita G. Gabriel, MD, FPDS, Marie Socouer M. Oblepias, MD, FPDS, Emmerson Gale S. Vista, MD, FPDS and Luella Joy A. Escueta, MD, DPDS


Background: Acne is a common disorder, which mostly affects adolescents. There is still little knowledge on the factors that affect patients’ decision to seek dermatologic consult.

Objectives: To determine the association of socio-demographic factors, knowledge, beliefs, disease severity, and quality of life to treatment- seeking behavior among acne patients seen at the Outpatient Department of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted among patients ages 11–50 years-old. Patients completed a self-administered questionnaire and were examined by a dermatologist. Patients’ demographic data, knowledge and perceptions on acne, acne severity, quality of life and treatment-seeking behavior were measured using frequencies. Treatment delay and sex association was assessed using Mann-Whitney test. Treatment delay association with age groups, education, income groups, source of information on acne, severity grade, Dermatology Life Quality Index (DLQI) groups, Cardiff Acne Disability Index (CADI) groups, and scarring grouped in quartiles were analyzed using Kruskal-Wallis.

Results: Four hundred five patients (117 males and 288 females; 11-50 years-old, mean age: 22.44 ± 6.60 years) with mild, moderate, moderately severe and very severe acne were included in the study. The mean treatment delay (MTD) was longer in patients aged 36- 40 (6.09 ± 4.69). Overall MTD in years was 2.78 ± 2.46 in males and 3.05 ± 3.34 in females. MTD was shorter in patients from the upper income than lower income class (1.17 ± 2.25 vs. 4.44 ± 3.80) and in patients with radio (0.97 ± 0.89), non-dermatology physicians (1.64 ± 2.09), family (2.51 ± 2.43), friends (2.79 ± 2.67) and internet (2.79 ± 3.17) as their source of information than those whose sources were from brochures (6.95 ± 4.69), cosmetologists (6.10 ± 3.97), commercial establishments (5.23 ± 6.97) and magazines (4.30 ± 5.29). The MTD was longer in patients with very severe acne (3.5±1) based on modified Leeds Revised Acne Grading System compared to moderate acne (2.85±3.14). Using the DLQI, 153 (37.78%) revealed that acne had moderate effect on their lives (7.37±4.82). Based on the CADI, 183 (45.2%) patients had moderate impairment level. Majority of the patients (57.53%) have scars. There were significant correlations between MTD and age (p value= 3.599×10-06), income class (p value= 1.62 x10-14), source of information (p value= 0.003642) and scarring (p value= 0.003642).

Conclusion: We found out that majority of patients have false perceptions about acne so there is a need to educate them to prevent inappropriate treatment and self-medication. It was also noted that treatment delay was significantly longer in older patients, lower income patients and patients with scars. Therefore, it is prudent to inform patients to seek dermatologic consult in treating acne for proper management and decrease risk for scarring.



Lagda, D, Hipolito ,R, Gabriel ,MT, Oblepias,MS, Vista,EG, & Escueta, LJ. (2017). Factors related to treatment-seeking behavior among acne patients seen in a tertiary hospital in the Philippines: A cross-sectional study. Journal of the Philippine Dermatological Society, 26(1), 12-22.



acne, beliefs, treatment-seeking, perceptions, treatment delay

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Factors related to treatment-seeking behavior among acne patients seen in a tertiary hospital in the Philippines: A cross-sectional study