University of Massachusetts Medical School Faculty Publications


Self-reported help-seeking behaviors and treatment choices of adolescents regarding acne

UMMS Affiliation

School of Medicine

Publication Date


Document Type



Acne Vulgaris; Attitude to Health; Dermatologic Agents


Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Dermatology | Health Psychology | Pediatrics | Skin and Connective Tissue Diseases


Acne vulgaris is a common condition affecting adolescents that they often choose to treat on their own rather than seek out and follow medical advice. Using data from an anonymous survey administered to 1,214 students in public middle and high schools in New Jersey, we compared the self-reported acne frequency, severity, and beliefs of students based on their help-seeking behaviors, treatment choices, and treatment adherence. Chi-square analyses were performed for data comparison. A large proportion of students in this sample (57%) treated their own acne, and a much smaller proportion (17%) have sought medical care. Students who saw a health professional reported acne of higher frequency and severity than those who did not (p = 0.01). Severity also appeared to affect treatment adherence, with students who adhered to recommended treatments reporting more frequent (p < 0.001) and more severe (p = 0.02) acne than those who chose to self-treat. Beliefs and knowledge varied most significantly according to treatment adherence. In conclusion, most adolescent students treat their own acne. Self-assessment of acne severity plays a significant role in the tendency to seek out and adhere to medical treatment. Beliefs and knowledge may also affect adherence, suggesting a role for physicians to influence adherence rates through patient education. Because the majority of students are getting information from nonphysician sources, there may be a need to evaluate the resources they are using to make sure they are receiving appropriate, helpful information.

DOI of Published Version



Pediatr Dermatol. 2013 Jan-Feb;30(1):36-41. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1470.2012.01807.x. Link to article on publisher's site

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Pediatric dermatology

PubMed ID