To estimate prevalence rates of atopy among asthma patients managed by physicians of different specialties.
A multi-center, cross-sectional study of adult asthma patients receiving care in outpatient allergy (5), general practice (5) and pulmonary (4) settings was conducted to assess the presence of atopy (defined as elevated total IgE or specific IgE sensitivity to ≥ 1 of 8 specific environmental allergens) using total serum IgE and ImmunoCap® in-vitro tests administered at time of entry into the study. Patients completed a self-administered survey on asthma and allergies (family history, symptoms, medication use). Physicians completed a 10-item patient management survey and brief case report form. The proportion of patients with evidence of atopy and physician-diagnosed allergies were estimated by physician specialty.
A total of 255 patients (mean age: 42 years, 73% female) were recruited into the study. Of these, 218 (85%) (mean age: 42 years, 74% female) were tested for serum evidence of atopy. Atopy prevalence among asthmatics was found to be 75% among allergists (AL), 70% among family practitioners (FP) and 61% among pulmonologists (PU) (p<.001). Among participants with a positive serum test for atopy, the percentage reporting physician-diagnosed allergies was 100% for AL, 73% for FP and 76% for PU (p<.001). The percentage of physicians reporting that the serum test provided new information about atopy in these asthma patients was 32% for AL, 81% for FP and 71% for PU (p<.001).
Prevalence of atopy among adult asthma patients varied by physician specialty, but always included a majority of patients assessed. Atopic asthma patients managed by FPs and PUs were less likely to report physician diagnosis of allergies. Serum testing for atopy was more informative for FPs and PUs.
Prevalence rates of atopy among adult asthmatics is high for all specialties in this study. For FP and PU specialties, the added information gained from allergy tests may have implications for disease treatment decisions.
D. Anstatt, Merck & Co., Inc., Industry.