A group of researchers led by the University of Bristol have received funding for a project that aims to improve the management and treatment of childhood eczema, a common condition that can have a significant impact on quality of life.
Called "Action PlAns for CHildren with Eczema" (APACHE), the study will run until 2020 and aims to develop personalised guides on how to look after a child's skin. APACHE has received £355 000 funding from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and includes researchers from the universities of Bristol, Nottingham, Sheffield and Manchester as well as University Hospital Bristol and Great Ormond Street Hospital NHS Trust.
Dr Matthew Ridd, a GP and an NIHR Post-doctoral Fellow at the University's Centre for Academic Primary Care, is the principal investigator on the APACHE study. He said: "In the UK, the majority of children are diagnosed and managed exclusively by their GP. While treatment with emollients or steroid creams is relatively simple, poor adherence is a common cause of treatment failure. Our research aims to improve adherence to treatment plans by developing written action plans for children with eczema - a common practice in other conditions such as asthma."
There are many parallels between eczema and asthma. Like eczema, the majority of children with asthma are diagnosed and managed exclusively in primary care; asthma is a common long-term condition affecting children, where adherence to treatment can be poor and may wane with time; disease severity fluctuates over time; and treatment regimens can be complex. Yet unlike children with asthma managed in primary care, children with eczema are not actively reviewed and rarely receive a written action plan.
"There is good evidence that written action plans improve outcomes in childhood asthma, so we hope that written action plans can do the same for children with eczema," said Dr Ridd. "We will develop written action plans for children with eczema and explore how best to evaluate them."