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Sublingual versus subcutaneous immunotherapy: patient adherence at a large German allergy center

Authors Lemberg M, Berk T, Shah-Hosseini K, Kasche E, Mösges R

Received 21 September 2016

Accepted for publication 3 December 2016

Published 4 January 2017 Volume 2017:11 Pages 63—70


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Johnny Chen

Marie-Luise Lemberg,1 Till Berk,2 Kija Shah-Hosseini,1 Elena-Manja Kasche,1,3 Ralph Mösges1

1Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Medical Statistics, Informatics and Epidemiology, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany; 2Department of Trauma Surgery, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland; 3Center for Dermatology, Specific Allergology and Environmental Medicine, Hamburg, Germany

Background: Many placebo-controlled studies have demonstrated that allergen immunotherapy (AIT) is an effective therapy for treating allergies. Both commonly used routes, subcutaneous (SCIT) and sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), require high patient adherence to be successful. In the literature, numbers describing adherence vary widely; this investigation compares these two routes of therapy directly.
Methods: All data were retrieved from the patient data management system of a center for dermatology, specific allergology, and environmental medicine in Germany. All 330 patients (aged 13–89 years) included in this study had commenced AIT between 2003 and 2011, thus allowing a full 3-year AIT cycle to be considered for each investigated patient.
Results: In this specific center, SCIT was prescribed to 62.7% and SLIT to 37.3% of all included patients. The total dropout rate of the whole patient cohort was 34.8%. Overall, SLIT patients showed a higher dropout rate (39.0%) than did SCIT patients (32.4%); however, the difference between these groups was not significant. Also, no significant difference between the overall dropout rates for men and for women was observed. A Kaplan–Meier curve of the patient collective showed a remarkably high dropout rate for the first year of therapy.
Conclusion: The analysis presented in this single-center study shows that most patients who discontinue AIT do so during the first year of therapy. Patients seem likely to finish the 3-year therapy cycle if they manage to adhere to treatment throughout the first year. Strategies for preventing nonadherence in AIT, therefore, need to be developed and standardized in future investigations.

Keywords: adherence, dropout, nonadherence, SCIT, SLIT, allergic rhinitis, allergy, allergen immunotherapy

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