Brown TM, Horblyuk RV, Grotzinger KM, Matzdorff AC, Pashos CL. Patient-reported treatment burden of chronic immune thrombocytopenia therapies. BMC Blood Disord. 2012 Mar 1;12(1):2.

BACKGROUND: Chronic immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) is a debilitating autoimmune disorder that causes a reduction in blood platelets and increased risk of bleeding. ITP is currently managed with various pharmacologic therapies and splenectomy.This study was conducted to assess patient perceived and reported treatment side effects, as well as the perceived burden or bother, and need to reduce or stop treatment, associated with these side effects among adult patients with chronic ITP.

METHODS: A Web-enabled survey was administered to members of a US-based ITP patient support group. Patients reported demographic and clinical characteristics, ITP treatments' side effects for treatments received since diagnosed, level of bother (or distress), and need to reduce or stop treatment, associated with side effects. Current and past exposure was assessed for five specific treatment types: corticosteroids (CS), intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg), anti-D immunoglobulin (anti-D), rituximab (RT), and splenectomy (SPL), as well as for other patient-referenced therapies (captured as "other").

RESULTS: The survey was completed by 589 patients; 78% female, 89% white, mean age 48 years (SD = 14.71), and 68% reported a typical low platelet count of < 50,000/μL. Current or past treatment with CS was reported by 92% (n = 542) of patients, 56% (n = 322) for IVIg, 36% (n = 209) for anti-D, 36% (n = 213) for RT, and 39% (n = 227) for SPL. A substantial proportion of CS-treated patients reported side effects (98%, P < 0.05), were highly bothered by their side effects (53.1%, P < 0.05), and reported the need to stop or reduce treatment due to side effects (37.8%, P < 0.05). Among patients reporting side effects of treatment, significant associations were noted for the number of side effects, aggregate bother of reported side effects, and the need to stop or reduce treatment (all P < 0.05).

Current ITP treatments, particularly corticosteroids, are associated with multiple bothersome side effects that may lead to patients stopping or reducing therapy. Open, informed and complete communication between clinician and patient regarding both the benefits and the side effects of ITP treatment may better prepare patients for their prescribed regimens.

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