Background: Topical corticosteroids are commonly used in dermatological practice. The aim of this study was to assess the baseline level of knowledge about topical steroids in a group of dermatology patients and to evaluate the impact of educational materials on patients' level of information.
Methods: A 10-item questionnaire was developed, and 126 patients who were prescribed topical steroids for several dermatologic diseases were asked mostly about side-effects of the drugs. Three different educational methods were used in parallel to the questionnaire: verbal (n = 42), written (n = 42) or verbal and written (n = 42). The same questions were asked again 1 or 2 weeks later.
Results: Only 7.1% of the study group mentioned that they were informed by doctors about the side-effects of topical steroids before they were administered. The baseline information scores about topical corticosteroids were higher in high school and college graduates and in those who noted side-effects or who were informed about side-effects before administration. A statistically significant difference was detected between pre- and posteducation scores of patients in the whole group and within the three groups of different educational methods (P < 0.001). Posteducation scores of the combined verbal- and written-educated group were higher than the written-educated group or the verbal-educated group.
Conclusion: The present study indicated that patient knowledge is enhanced by any kind of educational method, and particularly written information supported by verbal instructions given in dermatology outpatient departments. Moreover, we conclude that the 10-item questionnaire can be used in Turkey to assess patients' knowledge about topical corticosteroids.