Randomised controlled trial of silk therapeutic garments for the management of atopic eczema in children: the CLOTHES trial

K.S. Thomas, Lucy E. Bradshaw, Tracey H. Sach, Fiona Cowdell, Jonathan M. Batchelor, Sandra Lawton, Eleanor Harrison, Rachel H. Haines, Amina Ahmed, Taraneh Dean, Nigel P. Burrows, Ian Pollock, Hannah Buckley, Hywel C. Williams, Joanne Llewellyn, Clare Crang, Jane D. Grundy, Juliet Guiness, Andrew Gribbin, E.V. WakeEleanor J. Mitchell, Sara J. Brown, Alan A. Montgomery

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Abstract

Background: Atopic eczema (AE) is a chronic, itchy, inflammatory skin condition that affects the quality of life of children and their families. The role of specialist clothing in the management of AE is poorly understood.Objectives: To assess the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of silk garments for the management of AE in children with moderate to severe disease.Design: Parallel-group, observer-blind, randomised controlled trial of 6 months’ duration, followed by a 2-month observational period. A nested qualitative study evaluated the beliefs of trial participants, health-care professionals and health-care commissioners about the use of silk garments for AE.Setting: Secondary care and the community in five UK centres.Participants: Children aged 1–15 years with moderate or severe AE.Interventions: Participants were randomised (1 : 1 using online randomisation) to standard care or standard care plus 100% silk garments made from antimicrobially protected knitted sericin-free silk [DermaSilkTM (AlPreTec Srl, San Donà di Piave, Italy) or DreamSkinTM (DreamSkin Health Ltd, Hatfield, UK)]. Three sets of garments were supplied per participant, to be worn for up to 6 months (day and night). At 6 months the standard care group received the garments to use for the remaining 2-month observational period.Main outcome measures: Primary outcome – AE severity using the Eczema Area and Severity Index (EASI) assessed at 2, 4 and 6 months, by nurses blinded to treatment allocation. EASI scores were log-transformed for analysis. Secondary outcomes – patient-reported eczema symptoms (Patient Oriented Eczema Measure); global assessment of severity (Investigator Global Assessment); quality of life of the child (Atopic Dermatitis Quality of Life, Child Health Utility – 9 Dimensions), family (Dermatitis Family Impact Questionnaire) and main carer (EuroQoL-5 Dimensions-3 Levels); use of standard eczema treatments (e.g. emollients, topical corticosteroids); and cost-effectiveness. The acceptability and durability of the clothing, and adherence to wearing the garments, were assessed by parental/carer self-report. Safety outcomes – number of skin infections and hospitalisations for AE.Results: A total of 300 children were randomised (26 November 2013 to 5 May 2015): 42% female, 79% white, mean age 5 years. The primary analysis included 282 out of 300 (94%) children (n = 141 in each group). Garments were worn for at least 50% of the time by 82% of participants. Geometric mean EASI scores at baseline, 2, 4 and 6 months were 8.4, 6.6, 6.0, 5.4 for standard care and 9.2, 6.4, 5.8, 5.4 for silk clothing, respectively. There was no evidence of difference between the groups in EASI score averaged over all follow-up visits adjusted for baseline EASI score, age and centre (ratio of geometric means 0.95, 95% confidence interval 0.85 to 1.07; p = 0.43). This confidence interval is equivalent to a difference of –1.5 to 0.5 in the original EASI scale units. Skin infections occurred in 39 out of 141 (28%) and 36 out of 142 (25%) participants for standard care and silk clothing groups, respectively. The incremental cost per QALY of silk garments for children with moderate to severe eczema was £56,811 from a NHS perspective in the base case. Sensitivity analyses supported the finding that silk garments do not appear to be cost-effective within currently accepted thresholds.Limitations: Knowledge of treatment allocation may have affected behaviour and outcome reporting for some of the patient-reported outcomes.Conclusions: The addition of silk garments to standard AE care is unlikely to improve AE severity, or to be cost-effective compared with standard care alone, for children with moderate or severe AE. This trial adds to the evidence base to guide clinical decision-making.Future work: Non-pharmacological interventions for the management of AE remain a research priority among patients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-260
Number of pages260
JournalHealth Technology Assessment
Volume21
Issue number16
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017

Bibliographical note

© Queen’s Printer and Controller of HMSO 2017. This work was produced by Thomas et al. under the terms of a commissioning contract issued by the Secretary of State for Health. This issue may be freely reproduced for the purposes of private research and study and extracts (or indeed, the full report) may be included in professional journals provided that suitable acknowledgement is made and the reproduction is not associated with any form of advertising. Applications for commercial reproduction should be addressed to: NIHR Journals Library, National Institute for Health Research, Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre, Alpha House, University of Southampton Science Park, Southampton SO16 7NS, UK.

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    Thomas, K. S., Bradshaw, L. E., Sach, T. H., Cowdell, F., Batchelor, J. M., Lawton, S., Harrison, E., Haines, R. H., Ahmed, A., Dean, T., Burrows, N. P., Pollock, I., Buckley, H., Williams, H. C., Llewellyn, J., Crang, C., Grundy, J. D., Guiness, J., Gribbin, A., ... Montgomery, A. A. (2017). Randomised controlled trial of silk therapeutic garments for the management of atopic eczema in children: the CLOTHES trial. Health Technology Assessment, 21(16), 1-260. https://doi.org/10.3310/hta21160