Qualitative Assessment of Adult Patients’ Perception of Atopic Dermatitis Using Natural Language Processing Analysis in a Cross-Sectional Study

Bruno Falissard, Eric L. Simpson, Emma Guttman-Yassky, Kim A. Papp, Sebastien Barbarot, Abhijit Gadkari, Grece Saba, Laurene Gautier, Adeline Abbe, Laurent Eckert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Introduction: Atopic dermatitis (AD) is an incurable, inflammatory skin disease characterized by skin barrier disruption and immune dysregulation. Although AD is considered a childhood disease, adult onset is possible, presenting with daily sleep disturbance and functional impairment associated with itch, neuropsychiatric issues (anxiety and depression), and reduced health-related quality of life. Although such aspects of adult AD disease burden have been measured through standardized assessments and based on population-level data, the understanding of the disease experienced at the patient level remains poor. This text-mining study assessed the impact of AD on the lives of adult patients as described from an experiential perspective. Methods: Natural language processing (NLP) was applied to qualitative patient response data from two large-scale international cross-sectional surveys conducted in the USA and countries outside of the USA (non-USA; Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK). Descriptive analysis was conducted on patient responses to an open-ended question on how they felt about their AD and how the disease affected their life. Character length, word count, and stop word (common words) count were evaluated; centrality analysis identified concepts that were most strongly interlinked. Results: Patients with AD in all countries were most frequently impacted by itch, pain, and embarrassment across all levels of disease severity. Patients with moderate-to-severe AD were more likely than patients with mild AD to describe sleep disturbances, fatigue, and feelings of depression, anxiety, and a lack of hope that were directly associated with AD. Centrality analysis revealed sleep disturbance was strongly linked with itch. Collectively, these concepts revealed that patients with AD are impacted by both physical and emotional burdens that are intricately connected. Conclusions: Qualitative data from NLP, being more patient-centric than data from clinical standardized measures, provide a more comprehensive view of the burden of AD to inform disease management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-305
Number of pages9
JournalDermatology and Therapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2020


  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Natural language processing
  • Patient perception
  • Qualitative
  • Text-mining


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