• Ideal proportion of the population to be patch tested: How many should we be doing?

      Johnston, Graham
      Background How many patients should we be patch testing? A previous study suggested that the minimum proportion of a population to be patch tested for allergic contact dermatitis was 1:700 annually. Objectives To evaluate if the current minimum rate for patch testing has changed over the 20 years since the previous study in order to maximize the value. Methods In cooperation with the British Society for Cutaneous Allergy, a proforma for collation of retrospective data between January 2015 and December 2017 was sent to patch-test centers in the United Kingdom (UK) and the Republic of Ireland (ROI). The number of positive tests was analyzed against the proportion of population tested to see what proportion of the population would yield the greatest number of positive results. Results Responses from 11 centers showed that the minimum number needed to patch test had increased to 1:550 per head of population per year using the current criteria. Conclusions In agreement with previous studies, we should be patch testing more people than we are. We could reduce the threshold for referral of patients we patch test to derive the most benefit from this investigation.