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First Known Canadian Study Evaluates Real-World Experiences of Patients With Vitiligo in Community Setting


Researchers noted that this study's findings are consistent with prior epidemiologic data.

SerPhoto/Adobe Stock
SerPhoto/Adobe Stock

In the first known Canadian study exploring the real-world experiences of patients with vitiligo in a community setting, researchers' findings of patient age, sex, and affected location were consistent with prior epidemiologic data.

The retrospective, cross-sectional study, was published in the Journal of Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery and was carried out at a community dermatology clinic spanning 2 locations in Ontario.

Researchers utilized an electronic medical record review to identify patients who had presented to one of the clinics with a vitiligo diagnosis between January 2008 and April 2022. The search term "vitiligo" was used in the search. In addition to narrowing the search via key search terms, researchers also examined phototherapy records in order to further identify patients who may have been missed in the initial search method.

Upon the identification of patient cases, researchers reviewed each case to assess and gather relevant demographic and vitiligo-specific data, including sex, age, lesion location, concurrent conditions, and previous treatments.

The study identified 43 patients, consisting of 19 males and 24 females, with a male to female ratio of approximately 1:1.3. The average age of patients was 40.8 years, with 16% being children under the age of 18.

Lesions were most commonly found on the hands, head and neck, abdomen, legs, and arms, among other locations. Concurrent conditions frequently observed included thyroid disease, hypertension, irritable bowel syndrome, and arthritis.

Prior to dermatology referral, most patients had received some form of topical therapy, with tacrolimus being the most commonly used treatment by referring physicians. Among patients receiving phototherapy (narrow band ultraviolet B [UVB]), the average number of sessions was 400, with an average frequency of 1.5 sessions per week.

According to researchers, the findings of the study align with existing epidemiological data, indicating that males and females are equally affected by vitiligo. Additionally, the observed association between vitiligo and autoimmune conditions mirrors previous research findings. Furthermore, data related to age and treatment were also consistent with previous findings.

Study limitations included the limitation of data collection to a single dermatologic clinic with 2 locations, potentially overlooking patients who did not seek medical treatment or dermatologist assessment. Additionally, the study lacked information on treatment response and was based on data collected for clinical purposes.

"The clinical presentation of vitiligo varies across different populations. Our findings are in keeping with previously described epidemiologic data," according to study authors Obeng-Asumeng et al. "To our knowledge, this is the first Canadian study looking at the population in a community setting."


Obeng-Asumeng C, Rodriguez-Bolanos F, Gooderham M. Real-world experience of vitiligo patients: A retrospective chart review. J Cutan Med Surg. 2024;0(0). doi:10.1177/12034754231223699

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