Severity of hand eczema assessed by patients and dermatologist using a photographic guide

M Hald, Niels K Veien, Grete Laurberg, J D Johansen

44 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: The severity of hand eczema is of interest in epidemiological studies. Ideally, as no validated methods of self-assessment exist, a dermatologist should examine all subjects. However, this is very resource intensive.

OBJECTIVES: To examine if severity grading performed by patients with hand eczema using a self-administered photographic guide was in agreement with the assessment performed by a trained dermatologist. Furthermore, to measure the correlation between the severity of hand eczema expressed on a visual analogue scale (VAS) and the clinical severity assessment, using the photographic guide.

METHODS: Fifty-three consecutive outpatients with hand eczema were included, a number based on a prestudy statistical calculation. The patients were asked to grade current severity of their hand eczema by choosing one of four groups of photographs representing differing severities of hand eczema. On the same day all patients were examined by an experienced dermatologist, who graded the severity using the same photographic guide. The photographic guide was a modified version of a validated guide for use by physicians. In addition, the patients rated the severity of their hand eczema on a VAS.

RESULTS: Fifty-one of the respondents completed the full questionnaire. For 37 of the 51 patients (73%) the clinical severity assessments of patient and dermatologist were identical. The measure of agreement, Cohen's kappa coefficient, was 0.61, indicating good inter-rater agreement. The correlation between the dermatologist-rated severity and the corresponding score by the patients on the VAS was only moderate (Spearman's rank correlation coefficient rho = 0.52).

CONCLUSIONS: The photographic guide for the self-assessment of hand eczema is an easy instrument to use, and for research purposes can be a reliable tool for patients with hand eczema to grade severity. A VAS can only be considered as a mediocre tool for estimation of the dermatologist-rated clinical severity, but should be validated as an independent instrument to assess severity of hand eczema.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Dermatology
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)77-80
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2007


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Eczema
  • Female
  • Hand Dermatoses
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Photography
  • Self-Assessment
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Evaluation Studies
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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