Comparison of patient (POEM), observer (EASI, SASSAD, TIS) and corneometry measures of emollient effectiveness in children with eczema: findings from the COMET feasibility trial

Br J Dermatol. 2018 Aug;179(2):362-370. doi: 10.1111/bjd.16475. Epub 2018 Jun 7.


Background: Eczema affects around 20% of children, but multiple different outcome measures have hampered research into the effectiveness of different treatments.

Objectives: To compare the change in scores and correlations within and between five measures of eczema severity: Patient-Orientated Eczema Measure (POEM), Eczema Area and Severity Index (EASI), Six Area, Six Sign Atopic Dermatitis (SASSAD), Three Item Severity (TIS) and skin hydration (corneometry).

Methods: Data from a feasibility trial that randomized young children with eczema to one of four emollients were used. Participants were followed for 3 months (84 days). Descriptive statistics (by emollient over time) and Spearman's correlation coefficients comparing scores at each time point and absolute change (between adjacent time points) for each outcome measure were calculated.

Results: In total, 197 children, mean ± SD age 21·7 ± 12·8 months, were randomized. POEM and TIS appeared to capture a range of eczema severity at baseline, but only POEM had close approximation to normal distribution. Mean POEM, EASI, SASSAD and TIS scores improved month by month, with POEM showing the greatest sensitivity (effect size 0·42). Correlations within POEM, EASI, SASSAD and TIS were moderate to good, decreasing over time. Correlations between measures were strongest for EASI, SASSAD and TIS. By contrast, corneometry scores were more variable, correlated less well over time and were poorly correlated with the other measures.

Conclusions: Except for corneometry, all measures appear to change in relation to emollient use over time and correlate well with themselves. POEM demonstrated the greatest range of scores at baseline and change in eczema severity over the first 28 days.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Eczema / diagnosis
  • Eczema / drug therapy*
  • Eczema / pathology
  • Emollients / administration & dosage*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Observer Variation
  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures*
  • Quality of Life
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Skin / drug effects
  • Skin / pathology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Water Loss, Insensible / drug effects*


  • Emollients