Occupational contact dermatitis in Australia: diagnostic and management practices, and severity of worker impairment Academic Article uri icon


  • The aims of this study were to compare treatment and referral practices between general practitioners (GPs) and dermatologists and to evaluate predictors for occupational contact dermatitis (OCD) disease severity measured in terms of worker impairment. Data were collected from 181 patients recruited for a larger study of OCD. Information about treatment recommendations and usual referral practices are reported for 123 patients. Data from patients, diagnosed with work-related skin disease, were modelled for severity of worker impairment. GPs were more likely to treat a patient independently, referring if the patient did not improve, whereas dermatologists were more likely to refer for patch testing on initial presentation. Dermatologists were more likely to recommend gloves and GPs were more likely to recommend soap avoidance/substitution. 2 GPs and no dermatologists reported recommending the best practice combination of moisturizers, topical corticosteroids and soap substitutes. When adjusted for all variables including age, sex, duration and diagnostic subgroup, workers with atopy as a cofactor had the most severe impairment. This study suggests that in Australia, patients with suspected OCD are initially managed within general practice, few clinicians recommend best practice treatments for OCD, and that atopy is associated with severity. These findings have implications for health resource allocation, clinician education, and the pre-employment counselling of atopic patients.

publication date

  • June 2007

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