Education Programs May Boost Teens’ Knowledge About Acne

Both written handouts and computerized presentations with audiovisual components may be effective in teaching adolescents about acne, according to a report in the February issue of Archives of Dermatology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Despite the number of teens with acne, substantial misunderstanding remains about its causes and treatment, the authors write as background information in the article. “Surveys of patients with acne in academic and community settings have revealed widespread misconceptions regarding acne’s pathogenesis, natural course and response to therapy,” they continue. Surveys also indicate that many patients receive information about acne from television, parents, friends and magazines.

Phoebe E. Koch, M.D., of the Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn. and colleagues studied 100 teens age 13 to 17 who visited a private dermatology practice or one of three general pediatric clinics. Participants completed a brief questionnaire to assess their existing knowledge of acne, then were randomly assigned by coin toss to receive either the written (45 teens) or audiovisual presentation (35 teens). The teens took another quiz immediately following and one month after reading the handout or viewing the presentation. Both of the education tools focused on common misperceptions about acne and provided information about causes, factors that may exacerbate the condition and treatment options.

Teens in both the handout and computer groups scored higher on the acne knowledge test immediately after and one month following the intervention than they did during the initial assessment. There was no significant difference in scores between the groups either before or after the education session, suggesting that the two methods were equally effective.

“The results of our study support the notion that computerized audiovisual presentations serve as effective teaching tools in the clinic and may relieve the burden on busy health care providers,” the authors write.

“The improvement in knowledge scores achieved by most participants, including those who had previously seen a physician for their acne, is consistent with previous research in suggesting there is room for improvement in acne education,” they conclude. “Future studies could provide additional clarification regarding the specific combination of educational interventions that may be most effective and feasible in the setting of an outpatient clinic. In addition, future research could evaluate the effect that increased knowledge about acne might have on an adolescent population in terms of self-confidence, compliance with skin care regimen and, most notably, improved clinical outcomes.”

Arch Dermatol. 2008; 144[2]:208-214.