The effect of a new communication template on anticipated willingness to initiate or resume allergen immunotherapy: an internet-based patient survey
BACKGROUND Allergen immunotherapy (AIT) is advised for patients with allergic rhinitis who remain symptomatic despite the use of pharmacotherapy and allergen avoidance. Several factors influence the decision to initiate and complete the AIT regimen. OBJECTIVE To evaluate patient initiation and persistence with subcutaneous and sublingual immunotherapies (SCIT and SLIT) according to physician recommendation. METHODS A retrospective review of electronic health records of patients with allergic rhinitis for whom AIT was recommended was conducted in a large private allergy practice in Pennsylvania. RESULTS Of 8,790 patients advised to consider AIT, 36.2% initiated AIT (57% adults, 43% children); 78% chose SCIT and 22% chose SLIT drops. Election of AIT was significantly associated with select comorbidities, specifically chronic sinusitis (8.1% for AIT vs 10% for no AIT), allergic conjunctivitis (12.5% for AIT vs 18.5% for no AIT), and asthma (33.8% for AIT vs 37.4% for no AIT; P < .05). Choice of SCIT vs SLIT drops was significantly associated with older age, female sex, select comorbidities, and more allergy medications at initiation (P < .05). Of adults, 30.2% completed at least 3 years of recommended treatment. Median time on treatment was longer for adults on SCIT vs SLIT drops (3 vs 1.6 years). Similarly, 35.4% of children completed treatment, with a longer median time on treatment for SCIT (4.7 years) vs SLIT drops (3.5 years). CONCLUSION A minority of patients initiated AIT according to allergist recommendation and a subset of these patients completed therapy. AIT might be an underused option that could benefit patients unable to manage allergic rhinitis symptoms by other means. TRIAL REGISTRATION clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT01549340.