How many of you have taken the ITSAN survey? Have you ever wondered how many people have responded (more than 5,000) and what happened to the survey results? About two years ago I wondered the same thing and asked ITSAN's permission to review the data. Fast forward through the time it took to recruit a qualified research team, complete the analyses, submit our Abstract and have it accepted by the American Academy of Dermatology, complete the Poster and present it at the Annual Meeting of the AAD in March 2017.
What makes this study special is that our primary author, Tim Berger, M.D., is a respected dermatologist at a respected academic medical center (University of California San Francisco), former Vice President of the AAD and close associate of the National Eczema Association - all of which bring additional credibility to our patient population and to the findings. Your dermatologist probably knows his name. It was especially interesting and rewarding for me to watch his excitement as the results began to emerge and I remember the exact moment when he acknowledged the findings as compelling and suggested that we submit the findings as a Poster Exhibit to the AAD. Another special moment for me was attending the NEA Reception at the AAD Annual Meeting and "working the room" only to find that Dr. Berger had already personally shared the Poster with the entire Scientific Advisory Board of the NEA.
Our research team also included a professor of health informatics (biostatistics) at the University of San Francisco, who guided the statistical analyses of the survey results with the assistance of her graduate students, as well as the physician who authored the original survey and developed the TS exposure measures. As we began the study, each finding led to additional calculations and the analyses continued to evolve for over a year. I believe that ours was the first effort to attempt to quantify exposure to TS and to study the relationship between exposure and symptoms. Ultimately, the study found statistically significant relationships between exposure (calculated as a function of quantity, potency, areas of application) and observations such as duration of symptoms as well as statistically significant correlation between age and percent of skin affected as well as age at first use and certain observed symptoms. An interesting note, Dr. Berger had us focus on survey responses by adults, because he believes that the pediatric population requires separate study. The study concludes, not surprisingly, that more study is needed.
Please check out the full poster at:
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When you view the Poster, please be sure to click through the "COSTEX" link to see the formula for TS exposure.
Last, but not least, a big thank you to ITSAN's co-founders and current leadership for allowing me to use the survey data and for your patience and moral support while I took this journey! This experience has taught me how slow and difficult it is to move the needle on medical research. Two years of hard work is really just baby steps forward for our mission, but I hope will help pave the way for every research opportunity to follow.