Evaluation of measurement errors in the Patient-Oriented Eczema Measure (POEM) outcome


Background: The Patient-Oriented Eczema Measure (POEM) is the recommended core outcome instrument for atopic dermatitis (AD) symptoms. POEM is reported by recalling the presence/absence of seven symptoms in the last 7 days. Objective: To evaluate measurement errors in POEM recordings due to imperfect recall. Methods: Using data from a clinical trial of 247 AD patients aged 12–65 years, we analysed the reported POEM score (r-POEM) and the POEM derived from the corresponding daily scores for the same seven symptoms without weekly recall (d-POEM). We quantified recall error by comparing the r-POEM and d-POEM for 777 patient-weeks collected from 207 patients, and estimated two components of recall error: (1) recall bias due to systematic errors in measurements and (2) recall noise due to random errors in measurements, using a bespoke statistical model. Results: POEM scores have a relatively low recall bias, but a high recall noise. Recall bias was estimated at 1.2 points lower for the r-POEM on average than the d-POEM, with a recall noise of 5.7 points. For example, a patient with a recall-free POEM of 11 (moderate) could report their POEM score anywhere from 5 to 14 (with 95% probability) because of recall error. Model estimates suggested that patients tend to recall itch and dryness more often than experienced (positive bias of less than 1 day), but less often for the other symptoms (bleeding, cracking, flaking, oozing/weeping and sleep disturbance; negative bias ranging 1–4 days). Conclusions: In this clinical trial data set, we found that patients tended to slightly underestimate their symptoms when reporting POEM, with significant variation in how well they were able to recall the frequency of their symptoms every time they reported POEM. A large recall noise should be taken into consideration when interpreting POEM scores.

Clinical and Experimental Allergy
Guillem Hurault
Guillem Hurault
Data Scientist