Hidradenitis Suppurativa Patients Struggle to Access Care, Use Internet to Learn About Condition

By Rob Dillard - Last Updated: July 26, 2023

Individuals with hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) face barriers in accessing dermatology care, and as such are using the Internet to learn about HS, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology.

“Although (HS) often requires multidisciplinary care, dermatologists specialize in the diagnosis and management of this condition,” the investigators noted. “As HS is associated with low socioeconomic status, individuals may face barriers accessing dermatologic care due to financial and insurance challenges.”

Researchers disseminated a 40-item, multiple-choice survey to people with a confirmed diagnosis of HS. The study population consisted of 302 participants 18 years and older in the US. Data were collated between August and September 2022.

According to the findings, over half of all survey respondents (51.3%, 155/302) reported that seeing the dermatologist is difficult or very difficult. Specifically, Black individuals and Medicaid-insured individuals were more likely to report difficulty than White or privately insured individuals. As the researchers noted, commonly reported barriers to seeing the dermatologist included long wait times to schedule appointments (59.6%), financial/insurance challenges (24.2%), HS-related pain hindering appointment attendance (23.8%), work-related challenges (18.9%), commute/transportation challenges (13.9%), and inability to obtain referrals (7.3%).

Moreover, most respondents (74.5%) reported using the internet to access information about HS, namely Facebook (64%), Google (58.2%), HS-specific organizations (50.2%), and Reddit (33.3%. Reasons provided for using internet sources included desires to better understand HS (74.2%), find a community of others with HS (72.9%), and learn about alternative treatments (64.9%). Furthermore, 30% of respondents reported using the internet because they have insufficient time spent with their dermatologists.

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