Background: This study aimed to obtain clinical and economic information about patterns of treatment of solar keratoses (SKs) by general practitioners in Australia. The study design was a retrospective survey relating to the treatment of patients presenting to their doctor with previously untreated SKs.
Methods: Data were collected between May and June 2000, from a sample of doctors who were asked to randomly select two SK patients from their medical records and complete a self-administered postal questionnaire. Information about treatment types, number of visits, treatment complications, and specialist referrals were directly extracted from the patient records.
Results: A total of 156 patients were recruited to the study (61% male) who had been treated for a total of 251 SKs (average 1.6 lesions/patient). The most common treatment employed was cryotherapy (63%). Excision was also commonly used (18%). Five per cent of patients were treated with a mixture of excision and cryotherapy. Topical agents were not commonly employed. Of those patients who consulted a doctor, 9% were referred to a specialist for diagnosis or treatment, of which 57% were referred to a dermatologist.
Conclusion: The typical number of doctor visits varied from 1.9 to 4.6 with a range of cost per patient of 55.13-249.70 Australian dollars depending on complexity of the case and the need for referral.