Chronic urticaria: an internet survey of health behaviours, symptom patterns and treatment needs in European adult patients

Br J Dermatol. 2009 Mar;160(3):633-41. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2133.2008.08920.x. Epub 2008 Nov 11.


Background: Chronic urticaria (CU) is a common skin disorder characterized by spontaneous outbreaks of itchy weals and/or angio-oedema over a period of 6 weeks or longer. Very little is known about the health behaviour, symptom patterns or unmet treatment needs of patients with CU.

Objectives: To determine how patients with CU manage their condition, when and where their symptom outbreaks occur and what their greatest unmet treatment needs are.

Methods: An internet survey was conducted with 321 randomly selected, representative adults in Germany and France diagnosed with CU. The survey covered patient health behaviour, when and where symptoms occur and which effects of CU remain unaddressed.

Results: The survey found that 78% of the respondents were taking prescription or over-the-counter medication, yet only 33% of those taking medication did so preventively always or often. For 58% of respondents, CU outbreaks lasted 6-10 weeks, while 12% of patients had CU continuously for 52 weeks year(-1). The body parts most frequently reported as most affected by CU were the arms (55% of women and 57% of men; not significant) and the legs (42% of women and 32% of men; P = 0.043). More respondents were bothered by symptoms in the evening (34%) than during the night (23%), morning (23%) or afternoon (20%), and the mode of the frequency for sleep being affected was three nights per week. Itching and physical discomfort remained inadequately addressed for 68% of the respondents, and sleep disturbances from CU remained inadequately addressed for 48% of respondents.

Conclusions: A better understanding of health behaviour, symptom pattern and unmet needs of patients with CU will enable physicians and patients to manage this disabling condition more effectively.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Chronic Disease
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Female
  • France
  • Germany
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Needs Assessment*
  • Patient Compliance / statistics & numerical data
  • Seasons
  • Self Care
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / etiology
  • Time Factors
  • Urticaria / complications
  • Urticaria / pathology
  • Urticaria / psychology
  • Urticaria / therapy*