Background: Hand-held NB-UVB units are lightweight devices that may overcome the need to treat vitiligo in hospital-based phototherapy cabinets, allowing early treatment at home that may enhance the likelihood of successful repigmentation. The pilot Hi-Light trial examined the feasibility of conducting a large multi-centre randomised controlled trial (RCT) on the use of such devices by exploring recruitment, adherence, acceptability, and patient education.
Methods: This was a feasibility, double-blind, multi-centre, parallel group randomised placebo-controlled trial of hand-held NB-UVB phototherapy for the treatment of vitiligo at home. The overall duration of the trial was seven months; three months recruitment and four months treatment. Participants were randomly allocated to active or placebo groups (2:1 ratio). The primary outcome measure was the proportion of eligible participants who were willing to be randomised. The secondary outcomes included proportion of participants expressing interest in the trial and fulfilling eligibility criteria, withdrawal rates and missing data, proportion of participants adhering to and satisfied with the treatment, and incidence of NB-UVB short-term adverse events.
Results: Eighty-three percent (45/54) of vitiligo patients who expressed interest in the trial were willing to be randomised. Due to time and financial constraints, only 29/45 potential participants were booked to attend a baseline hospital visit. All 29 (100%) potential participants were confirmed as being eligible and were subsequently randomised. Willingness to participate in the study for General Practice (family physicians) surgeries and hospitals were 40% and 79%, respectively; 86% (25/29) of patients adhered to the treatment and 65% (7/11) of patients in the active group had some degree of repigmentation. Only one patient in the active group reported erythema grade 3 (3%). Both devices (Dermfix 1000 NB-UVB and Waldmann NB-UVB 109) were acceptable to participants.
Conclusions: Hand-held NB-UVB devices need evaluation in a large, pragmatic RCT. This pilot trial has explored many of the uncertainties that need to be overcome before embarking on a full scale trial, including the development of a comprehensive training package and treatment protocol. The study has shown strong willingness of participants to be randomised, very good treatment adherence and repigmentation rates, and provided evidence of feasibility for a definitive trial.
Trial registration: NCT01478945.