Background: The perceptions of patients and physicians regarding the symptoms and impact of allergic rhinitis (AR) were assessed in a prospective, cross-sectional, international survey. This paper presents the combined survey results from five European countries (Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the UK).
Methods: Data were recorded by 1,482 patients and matched with records from 415 primary care physicians and specialists. Diagnostic tests to confirm AR had been performed on 1,279 (86.3%) patients. Both physicians and patients recorded the presence, severity and impact of symptoms at the time of consultation in addition to those symptoms frequently, but not currently, present. Health-related quality of life (HRQoL) was assessed using the Mini Rhinoconjunctivitis Quality of Life Questionnaire.
Results: A large proportion of patients had moderate-severe disease (67.2%; n = 996), persistent disease (42.5%; n = 630) and comorbidities such as asthma (31.5%; n = 467). Overall, patients rated their disease as more severe than did physicians (P < 0.001). At the time of the consultation, one-third of all patients reported that their current nasal and ocular symptoms were moderate or severe in nature. According to the physicians' assessment, good control of nasal and ocular symptoms was achieved in 45.4% (n = 673) and 51.3% (n = 760) of patients, respectively, and poor symptom control in 18.0% (n = 267) and 12.1% (n = 179). Overall, 43.3% (n = 641) of those surveyed were using two or more medicines for their AR. Health-related quality of life was correlated with disease severity and with the number of days without symptoms in the previous 4 weeks. Allergic rhinitis had a significantly greater impact in patients with more persistent disease than in those with intermittent disease (2.3 +/- 1.3 vs 1.9 +/- 1.2; P < 0.001). Nonetheless, 81.8% (n = 601) of patients with intermittent disease reported some impairment of their daily life as a result of their AR.
Conclusions: Allergic rhinitis remains a significant health problem because of the high burden of symptoms and its impact on general well being and HRQoL among patients consulting for this condition. Overall, there was a poor correlation between patients and physicians in the reporting of disease severity.