Difference in treatment between dermatologists and pediatricians

A study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, investigated whether there were any differences in the way pediatricians and dermatologists prescribed acne treatments to patients.1

The study was a population-based cross-sectional analysis using data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey from 2002 to 2016 for pediatric patients aged 18 or younger.

There have been 45.8 million acne outpatients for pediatric patients. With disaggregated data, 54% of visits were made by dermatologists, 28% by pediatricians and 18% by other providers. Compared to pediatricians, dermatologists treated older patients with an average of 15.4 years versus 13.1 years.

Dermatologists also saw a higher proportion of white patients (92.8% vs. 79.7%), non-Hispanic patients (86.8% vs. 76.9%), and patients with private insurance (83.1 % vs. 69.5%) compared to pediatricians.

The most common drug classes prescribed by dermatologists and pediatricians included topical retinoids 41% and topical combinations 20.1%.

Compared to patients seen by dermatologists, patients seen by pediatricians were 71% less likely to receive topical retinoids, 48% less likely to receive topical antibiotics, and 53% less likely to receive oral antibiotics.1

Pediatricians have prescribed topical retinoids, topical antibiotics, and oral antibiotics less frequently than dermatologists. According to the study authors, it is important to understand these differences in prescribing models for acne care and to identify potential educational gaps.


1. Jones M., Pourali S, Kohn AH, et al. 240 Differences in Acne Treatment Prescription Models Between Pediatricians and Dermatologists. Accessed May 10, 2021. J Invest Dermatol. 2021; 141 (5): S43. doi: 10.1016 / j.jid.2021.02.262

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