Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

A programme of research to set priorities and reduce uncertainties for the prevention and treatment of skin disease

Thomas, Kim S.; Batchelor, Jonathan M.; Bath-Hextall, Fiona; Chalmers, Joanne; Clarke, Tessa; Crowe, Sally; Delamere, Finola M.; Eleftheriadou, Viktoria; Evans, Nicholas; Firkins, Lester; Greenlaw, Nicola; Lansbury, Louise E.; Lawton, Sandra; Layfield, Carron; Leonardi-Bee, Jo; Mason, James; Mitchell, Eleanor; Nankervis, Helen; Norrie, John; Nunn, Andrew; Ormerod, Anthony D.; Patel, Ramesh; Perkins, William; Ravenscroft, Jane C.; Schmitt, Jochen; Simpson, Eric; Whitton, Maxine E.; Williams, Hywel C.

A programme of research to set priorities and reduce uncertainties for the prevention and treatment of skin disease Thumbnail


Jonathan M. Batchelor

Fiona Bath-Hextall

Joanne Chalmers

Tessa Clarke

Sally Crowe

Finola M. Delamere

Viktoria Eleftheriadou

Nicholas Evans

Lester Firkins

Nicola Greenlaw

Sandra Lawton

Carron Layfield

Professor of Medical Statistics and Epidemiology

James Mason

Helen Nankervis

John Norrie

Andrew Nunn

Anthony D. Ormerod

Ramesh Patel

William Perkins

Jane C. Ravenscroft

Jochen Schmitt

Eric Simpson

Maxine E. Whitton

Profile Image

Professor of Dermato-Epidemiology



Skin diseases are very common and can have a large impact on the quality of life of patients and caregivers. This programme addressed four diseases: (1) eczema, (2) vitiligo, (3) squamous cell skin cancer (SCC) and (4) pyoderma gangrenosum (PG).


To set priorities and reduce uncertainties for the treatment and prevention of skin disease in our four chosen diseases.


Mixed methods including eight systematic reviews, three prioritisation exercises, two pilot randomised controlled trials (RCTs), three feasibility studies, two core outcome initiatives, four funding proposals for national RCTs and one completed national RCT.


Secondary care, primary care and the general population.


Patients (and their caregivers) with eczema, vitiligo, SCC and PG, plus health-care professionals with an interest in skin disease.


Our three intervention studies included (1) barrier enhancement using emollients from birth to prevent eczema (pilot RCT); (2) handheld narrowband ultraviolet light B therapy for treating vitiligo (pilot RCT); and (3) oral ciclosporin (Neoral®, Novartis Pharmaceuticals) compared with oral prednisolone for managing PG (pragmatic national RCT).


Systematic reviews included two overarching systematic reviews of RCTs of treatments for eczema and vitiligo, an umbrella review of systematic reviews of interventions for the prevention of eczema, two reviews of treatments for SCC (one included RCTs and the second included observational studies), and three reviews of outcome measures and outcome reporting. Three prioritisation partnership exercises identified 26 priority areas for future research in eczema, vitiligo and SCC. Two international consensus initiatives identified four core domains for future eczema trials and seven core domains for vitiligo trials. Two pilot RCTs and three feasibility studies critically informed development of four trial proposals for external funding, three of which are now funded and one is pending consideration by funders. Our pragmatic RCT tested the two commonly used systemic treatments for PG (prednisolone vs. ciclosporin) and found no difference in their clinical effectiveness or cost-effectiveness. Both drugs showed limited benefit. Only half of the participants’ ulcers had healed by 6 months. For those with healed ulcers, recurrence was common (30%). Different side effect profiles were noted for each drug, which can inform clinical decisions on an individual patient basis. Three researchers were trained to PhD level and a dermatology patient panel was established to ensure patient involvement in all aspects of the programme.


Findings from this programme of work have already informed clinical guidelines and patient information resources. Feasibility studies have ensured that large national pragmatic trials will now be conducted on important areas of treatment uncertainty that address the needs of patients and the NHS. There is scope for considerable improvement in terms of trial design, conduct and reporting for RCTs of skin disease, which can be improved through wider collaboration, registration of trial protocols and complete reporting and international consensus over core outcome sets. Three national trials have now been funded as a result of this work. Two international initiatives to establish how best to measure the core outcome domains for eczema and vitiligo are ongoing.


Thomas, K. S., Batchelor, J. M., Bath-Hextall, F., Chalmers, J., Clarke, T., Crowe, S., …Williams, H. C. (2016). A programme of research to set priorities and reduce uncertainties for the prevention and treatment of skin disease. Programme Grants for Applied Research, 4(18),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 1, 2016
Online Publication Date Dec 31, 2016
Publication Date Dec 31, 2016
Deposit Date Feb 8, 2017
Publicly Available Date Feb 8, 2017
Journal Programme Grants for Applied Research
Print ISSN 2050-4322
Electronic ISSN 2050-4330
Publisher NIHR Journals Library
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 4
Issue 18
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information All NIHR Journals Library reports have been produced under the terms of a commissioning contract issued by the Secretary of State for Health. Reports may be freely reproduced for the purposes of private research and study and extracts (or indeed, the full report) may be included in journals provided that suitable acknowledgement is made and the reproduction is not associated with any form of advertising. Permission to reproduce material from a published report is covered by the UK government’s non-commercial licence for public sector information.


skin disease 3009385.pdf (41.2 Mb)

Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address:

You might also like

Downloadable Citations