Study Shows What Teens Would Pay to Reduce or Be Rid Of Acne

Teens report that they would pay about $275 to have never had acne, and it is also reported that they are willing to pay considerably more to be acne-free than to have 50% clearance of their acne or to have clear skin with acne scars, according to a report in the August issue of Archives of Dermatology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Acne vulgaris affects almost all adolescents and has been associated with anxiety, depression, embarrassment and social dysfunction, according to background information in the article. "Reducing the psychosocial impact of acne is considered one of the guiding principles for its clinical management, and it is important to measure and evaluate this impact," the authors write.

Cynthia L. Chen, MD, and colleagues at the University of California, San Francisco, studied 266 teen volunteers with acne from four public high schools in San Francisco. The participants completed written surveys regarding how much of their lifetime they would give up or how much money they would pay to have never had acne, to be 100% acne-free from then on, to have 100% acne clearance but with visible scarring, or to have 50% acne clearance. They and their parents also were asked about acne history and severity, and parents were asked about their willingness to pay because they typically bear the cost of their children's acne treatment.

The researchers' used teens' responses to the time trade-off question to calculate their current acne state utility score. This was done by dividing the participants' reduced life expectancy in years without acne by his or her life expectancy in years with acne. The average score for the current acne state was 0.961; 100% clearance received a higher score (0.978) than 50% clearance (0.967), and 100% clearance with scarring (0.965).

On the willingness-to-pay analysis, the teens reported they would pay a median of $275 to have never had acne, $100 to be 100% cleared of acne, $10 for 50% clearance, and zero for 100% clearance with scarring. Parents said they would pay a median of $250 for their child to never have had acne, $100 for 100% clearance, $100 for 50% clearance, and zero for 100% clearance with scarring.

Adolescents who rated their acne as more severe reported a willingness to trade more time and money for acne clearance than those with less severe acne. "Knowledge of these patient preferences may help dermatologists balance clinical trial results with patients' expectations of therapy," the authors write. "Randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled trials have shown that three to four months of conventional acne therapy, including topical benzoyl peroxide, topical retinoids and oral antibiotics, typically produces reductions in lesion counts in the 40-60% range."

"It has also been suggested that the incidence of scarring from facial acne approaches 95%," they continue. "Thus, adolescents' marked preference for total clearance over partial (50%) clearance or clearance with scarring suggests that physicians must weigh high patient expectations against these clinical data regarding efficacy and risk of sequelae."

Journal reference: Cynthia L. Chen, Miriam Kuppermann, Aaron B. Caughey and Lee T. Zane. “A Community-Based Study of Acne-Related Health Preferences in Adolescents,” Archives of Dermatology, 2008; 144 (8): 988

Adapted from materials provided by JAMA and Archives Journals.

ScienceDaily, August 18, 2008


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