Acne tratment in Korea
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Acne tratment in Korea

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J Korean Med Sci. 2008 December; 23(6): 969-974.

Published online 2008 December 23. doi: 10.3346/jkms.2008.23.6.969.

PMCID: PMC2610661

Copyright © 2008 The Korean Academy of Medical Sciences

Treatment-Seeking Behaviors and Related Epidemiological Features in Korean Acne Patients

Dae Hun Suh,corresponding author*† Jung Won Shin,* Seong Uk Min,*† Dong Hun Lee,* Mi Young Yoon,† Nack In Kim,‡ Young Chul Kye,§ Eil Soo Lee,‖ Young Suck Ro,¶ and Kwang Joong Kim**

Department of Dermatology*, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.

Acne Research Laboratory†, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, Korea.

Department of Dermatology‡, College of Medicine, Kyunghee University, Seoul, Korea.

Department of Dermatology§, College of Medicine, Korea University, Seoul, Korea.

Department of Dermatology‖, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.

Department of Dermatology¶, Hanyang University Medical College, Seoul, Korea.

Department of Dermatology**, Hallym University Medical College, Anyang, Korea.

corresponding authorCorresponding author.

Address for correspondence: Dae Hun Suh, M.D. Department of Dermatology, Seoul National University College of Medicine, 28 Yeongeon-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul 110-744, Korea. Tel: +82.2-2072-3171, Fax: +82.2-742-7344, Email:

Received April 23, 2008; Accepted July 11, 2008.


Little is known about the treatment-seeking behaviors of acne patients, especially Asian acne patients. This study was performed to obtain detailed information about the treatment-seeking behaviors in Korean acne patients. Patients who visited the dermatology departments at 17 university hospitals completed a self-administered questionnaire. Most patients obtained information about acne from doctors or the Internet. The most important criteria for selecting a treatment method or choosing a particular clinic were effectiveness and accessibility. Patients used traditional medicine, visited beauty clinics, drank more water, and used over-the-counter topical agents more frequently than they sought doctors during the worsening period. The degree of satisfaction in treatment was found to depend on the total cost of treatment, number of places visited, site affected by acne, and emotional stress. Those who had experienced a side effect tended to have been treated for longer, to have paid more for treatment, and to have an associated skin disease. Treatments prescribed by dermatology clinics had the lowest aggravating rate, although improvement rates for family medicine clinics were also fairly high. This is the first study to investigate in detail the demographic features and characteristics of the treatment-seeking behaviors of acne patients in Asia.

Keywords: Acne Vulgaris, Therapy, Epidemiology




Acne is an extremely common skin disease, and thus, inspaniduals have various beliefs and perceptions about its treatment methods. In a recent community-based study, 68% of male and 66.8% of female teenage participants were reported to have acne (1). Although less frequently encountered than in adolescence, a significant number of adults, 20 yr of age or older, also have acne (1). In many cases, acne is regarded as a physiologic phenomenon, which is likely to regress spontaneously after adolescence. However, in some inspaniduals, acne persists and substantially increases the likelihood of scarring (2).

Because acne is a common skin condition, it has a great impact on quality of life. Thus, a detailed understanding of its more general aspects is important (3). Numerous clinical research studies have been undertaken on its epidemiology in western countries (1, 4, 5). However, comparatively few have been undertaken in Asian populations (6, 7). In particular, no study has been conducted in Asia on treatment-seeking behavior, the factors that have an influence on the treatment method selection or on levels of satisfaction with previous therapies.

The primary objective of this study was to characterize and analyze treatment-seeking behaviors in Korean acne patients. In particular, this study attempted to identify correlations between variables and to determine common and differing factors between Asians and Caucasians.


The study was conducted on new acne patients who visited the dermatology departments at 17 university hospitals (each with more than 500 hospital beds) between January and December 2006. Total of 1,400 questionnaires administered, and 1,236 were completed (756 female, 480 male; M:F ratio 1:1.6).

These questionnaires contained two sections: one for patients and the other for the attending dermatologists. Participants were asked to answer questions on the following; source of treatment information, factors influencing treatment choice, management method during acne flare-up, maintenance method after treatment, and degree of satisfaction with previous therapy. Dermatologists asked patients to answer questions about the places that they had visited for treatment and questions regarding treatment efficacy. And dermatologists were instructed to decide severity of their acne patients according to the Korean acne grading system (8). This questionnaire was administered under the supervision of a dermatologist in each hospital.

Statistical analysis

Statistical analysis was performed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS), version 12. The t-test was used to determine those of quantitative variables; total cost of acne treatment and treatment duration. And the chi-squared test was mainly used in this study to determine the statistical significances of qualitative variables; all variables other than total cost of acne treatment and treatment duration. p values of less than 0

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