Views and experiences of managing eczema: systematic review and thematic synthesis of qualitative studies

E Teasdale*, I Muller, K Sivyer, D Ghio, K Greenwell, S Wilczynska, A Roberts, M J Ridd, N Francis, L Yardley, K S Thomas, M Santer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
50 Downloads (Pure)


Background: The number of qualitative studies on eczema has increased rapidly in recent years. Systematically reviewing these can provide greater understandings of people’s perceptions of eczema and eczema treatments.

Objectives: We sought to systematically review and thematically synthesise qualitative studies exploring views and experiences of people with eczema and parents/carers of children with eczema.

Methods: We searched MEDLINE, PsycINFO, CINAHL and EMBASE from the earliest date available to February 2019. We selected papers focusing on views and experiences of eczema, eczema treatments, and barriers/facilitators to eczema self-management. We excluded papers focusing on health service provision models or health professionals’ views.

Results: We synthesised 39 papers (reporting 32 studies) from 13 countries. We developed four analytical themes:
1) Eczema not viewed as long-term condition,
2) Significant psychosocial impact not acknowledged by others,
3) Hesitancy (patient/carer uncertainty) about eczema treatments and
4) Insufficient information and advice.
Our findings suggest people with eczema and their carers experience frustration at having to manage a condition that is often seen by others as mundane but has significant psychosocial impact and is difficult to manage due to concerns about, and burden of, treatment. This frustration can be exacerbated by experiences of conflicting and/or insufficient information and advice from health professionals, family and others.

Conclusions: Effective self-management of eczema could be supported by addressing beliefs and concerns about treatments; seeking positive ways to promote a ‘control not cure’ message; acknowledging psychosocial impacts of eczema and treatment burden; and providing clear consistent advice or signposting towards reliable information.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)627-637
Number of pages11
JournalBritish Journal of Dermatology
Issue number4
Early online date12 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank our voluntary student research assistants, Niamh Wood and Laura Smith, for helping with the data extraction process and quality assessment. The research programme of L.Y. is partly supported by the NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre.

Funding Information:
This study presents independent research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) under its Programme Grants for Applied Research programme (grant ref. no. RP‐PG‐0216‐20007). M.J.R. was funded by a Post‐Doctoral Research Fellowship from the NIHR (PDF‐2014‐07‐013). The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the National Health Service, the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Authors. British Journal of Dermatology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Association of Dermatologists

Structured keywords

  • Physical and Mental Health


  • systematic review
  • qualitative
  • thematic synthesis
  • eczema
  • self-management


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