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Explorative study on patient’s perceived knowledge level, expectations, preferences and fear of side effects for treatment for allergic rhinitis

Peter W Hellings12*, Fabienne Dobbels4, Kris Denhaerynck5, Mark Piessens3, Jan L Ceuppens13 and Sabina De Geest45

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratory of Experimental Immunology, University Hospitals Leuven, Kapucijnevoer 33, 3000, Leuven, Belgium

2 Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, University Hospitals Leuven, Kapucijnevoer 33, 3000, Leuven, Belgium

3 Department of Internal Medicine, Allergy Division, University Hospitals Leuven, Leuven, Belgium

4 Center for Health Services and Nursing Research, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium

5 Institute of Nursing Science, Faculty of Medicine, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland

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Clinical and Translational Allergy 2012, 2:9  doi:10.1186/2045-7022-2-9

Published: 29 May 2012



In spite of the high prevalence of allergic rhinitis (AR) and the evidence-based guidelines for treatment, little is known about the patients’ perceived knowledge level, expectations, preferences for treatment, and fear for side effects of treatment for AR. This study aimed at gaining insight into these patient-related factors.


This explorative cross-sectional survey study included a convenience sample of 170 patients with rhinitis and clinical suspicion of allergy at the department of Otorhinolaryngology and Allergology. Patients’ perceived knowledge level, expectations, patient preferences, and fear of side effects of allergy treatment were collected via a self-report questionnaire developed for the purpose of this study.


22% of all patients (38/170) reported to have knowledge about anti-allergic treatment. 40% (55/170) of rhinitis patients expected to be cured by the prescribed treatment, whereas 43% (73/170) of patients expected suppression of allergic symptoms. Nasal spray was the preferred route of anti-allergic drug administration in 30% (52/170) of patients, followed by oral treatment (24%; 42/170), combination therapy (16%; 30/170), and injection therapy (15%; 27/170). More patients would choose a combination treatment with step-down approach (31%; 53/170) than mono-therapy with a step-up approach (20%; 34/170). Fear for side effects was reported mainly for nasal corticosteroids (48%; 81/170) and less for oral antihistamines (33%; 36/170), leucotriene antagonists (21%, 36/170) and immunotherapy (19%, 33/170).


Patients consulting for rhinitis have high expectations of anti-allergic treatment, prefer a nasal spray above oral treatment, prefer combined treatment rather than monotherapy, and fear adverse events of anti-allergic treatment.

Allergy; Rhinitis; Treatment; Patient reported outcomes; Preferences; Side-effects