Background: Perennial rhinitis is common and often results in substantial, potentially avoidable, impairment of quality of life. Quality of rhinitis care has been shown to be sub-optimal in general practice. Rigorous evaluation of educational interventions for healthcare professionals using randomized controlled trials is very uncommon.
Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of standardized allergy training for healthcare professionals on patients' disease-specific quality of life.
Methods: Patients with clinician diagnosed perennial rhinitis and/or a prescription for relevant nasal medication were recruited from general practice. Following baseline measurement of quality of life using the validated rhino-conjunctivitis questionnaire (RQLQ), patients were centrally randomized to receive care from an allergy-trained primary healthcare professional or routine care. RQLQ was measured again at 13 months after randomization.
Results: Process measures revealed that the training was well received. 202 patients were included in the intention-to-treat analysis and 157 in the per-protocol analysis. There was a 0.23 greater mean improvement in quality-of-life scores in the intervention group when compared with controls (P=0.08) in the intention-to-treat analysis, this increasing to a 0.3 greater mean improvement if confined to a per-protocol analysis (P=0.05). The intention-to-treat analysis showed that 39/101 (39%) in the intervention group showed a clinically significant > or =0.5 improvement in RQLQ compared with 28/101 (28%) of controls (risk difference=11%, number needed to treat=9, P=0.1).
Conclusions: Standardized allergy education given to primary healthcare professionals leads to modest improvements in disease-specific quality of life in patients with perennial rhinitis.