Review Finds Diverse Outcomes in Clinical Trials of Rosacea

Doug Brunk

May 27, 2021

Sarah A. Ibrahim

There is an unmet need to standardize outcomes that are reported in clinical trials of rosacea, according to the authors of a new systematic review of rosacea treatment studies.

"Rosacea is a chronic dermatologic condition that affects 16 million Americans," one of the study authors, Sarah A. Ibrahim, told this news organization after the annual conference of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery. "The features of rosacea, such as inflammatory lesions, redness, burning sensations, and swelling, can have a negative impact on the quality of life for many patients. Additionally, patients with rosacea are at an increased risk for other conditions such as autoimmune diseases, like inflammatory bowel disease."

In an effort led by principal investigator Murad Alam, MD, vice chair of the department of dermatology at Northwestern University, Chicago, Ibrahim conducted a systematic review to identify all outcomes that have previously been reported in clinical trials of rosacea, as part of the development of the core outcome set established by the Measurement of Priority Outcome Variables in Dermatologic Surgery (IMPROVED) group. "This has not been done before and is an important first step in understanding what outcomes should be measured in every future clinical study of rosacea," said Ibrahim, a medical student at Northwestern University, and predoctoral research fellow in Northwestern's department of dermatology.

The researchers limited their analysis to randomized, controlled trials of rosacea interventions published between 2010 and 2020 and categorized outcomes into domains based on similar themes.

A total of 58 studies were included in the systematic review, of which 7 (12%) evaluated laser-based interventions. The researchers identified 55 unique outcomes that encompassed eight domains: Quality of life, treatment effects, patient perception of health, clinical assessment, acceptance of care, laboratory assessment, physiological skin assessment, and patient satisfaction. Of the eight domains, clinical assessment-related outcomes were measured in all studies. Nontransient erythema was the most commonly reported outcome (43 studies, 78%), followed by inflammatory lesions (36 studies, 65%) and telangiectasia (22 studies, 40%).

Outcomes pertaining to treatment effects such as adverse events were measured in 49 of the 55 studies (89%), while patient-reported outcomes were measured in 21 (38%). Quality of life and patient satisfaction were reported in 18 (33%) and 13 (24%) studies, respectively.

"There were two main take-home messages of our study," said Ibrahim, who presented the results at the meeting. "The first is that there is a wide range of outcomes that are reported in clinical trials of rosacea therapies. Second, that there is a need to standardize the outcomes that are reported in clinical trials of rosacea, in order to be able to combine the results from different studies to better understand which interventions for rosacea are most effective."

She acknowledged certain limitations of the review, including that other trials related to the topic were not included. "Because of the date range and types of studies that we used to narrow down our search, it is possible that additional outcomes were reported in studies that were not included here," she said.

"This is a very important study because rosacea is a very common condition and one that I have seen more frequently in clinic since the pandemic started," said Omar Ibrahimi, PhD, MD, a dermatologist with the Connecticut Skin Institute in Stamford, who was asked to comment on the work. "One of the limitations with rosacea studies is that the studies done are often fairly small and the outcome measures are heterogeneous. The current study by Ibrahim and coworkers does a wonderful job of highlighting the various outcomes measures used to measure the success of rosacea treatments with energy-based devices."

This information, he added, "will be very useful for further research studies because it forms the basis for formulating a set of core outcome measures to judge treatment interventions with consensus input from a variety of key opinion leaders. This will prove to be valuable because if we can have a uniform set of outcome measures to judge rosacea treatments with then we will be able to compare the results from different studies better."

Ibrahim and colleagues reported having no relevant financial disclosures. Ibrahimi disclosed that he has been a speaker for both Candela and Cutera and he is currently on the medical advisory board for Cutera.

This article originally appeared on, part of the Medscape Professional Network.


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