In June 2020, the VAA was proud to announce the successful applicants of its first ever research grant of $2000 to support research that contributes to a better understanding of vitiligo. The grant was open to health professionals and students, including medical or nursing, junior doctors, specialists and allied health professionals. There were two excellent applications and the VAA decided to provide both applicants with a grant towards their research projects. The funds for the grants were raised through the VAA’s fundraising activities.

The successful applicants and their research project were:

Dr Brent Doolan (Dermatology Research Fellow, The Skin Hospital, Darlinghurst NSW):

Project: “Doolan BJ, Weaich M, Gupta M. An analysis of patient satisfaction in a pigmentary disorders clinic from a quaternary referral service. Australas J Dermatol, [In Press], doi: 10.1111/ajd.13397.”

Patient satisfaction is the major indicator of quality of care provided by a health facility. In 2012, Australia’s first specialised pigmentary disorders clinic was established at The Skin Hospital, Darlinghurst to help manage difficult-to-treat conditions such as vitiligo. We aimed to assess patient satisfaction of this service by identifying areas of dissatisfaction and attempting to further improve the pigmentary disorders clinic. Using a Patient Satisfaction Questionnaire, we were able to ascertain good overall satisfaction with the service, as well as areas to improve. This study highlights the need for a referral service for GPs and dermatologists and the need for a dedicated pigmentary disorders clinic in the Australian setting.

Project: “A retrospective evaluation of patient profiles and treatment modalities used within an Australian pigmentary disorders clinic”

Currently in Australia, there is limited data on the demographics, quality of life, blood investigations and effective treatments used for patients presenting with pigmentary disorders, especially in the management of vitiligo. Treatment is largely based on data obtained from overseas studies and international clinical trials. We wish to perform a review of over 600 patients with pigmentary disorders from The Skin Hospital, Sydney to better understand this patient group. This landmark study is the first to investigate the profile of pigmentary disorders patients in Australia. The knowledge of clinical characteristics, associations and current treatment modalities may help improve management among this cohort and aid in determining if additional services are required in Australia.

Dr Jennifer Nguyen (Dermatology Research Fellow, Victorian Melanoma Service, Occupational Dermatology Research and Education Centre, Dermatology Department at Alfred Health and Vulval Dermatology at The Royal Women’s Hospital, Melbourne VIC and Secretary of the Vitiligo Association of Australia Secretary):

Project: “Use of Camouflage Therapy in Vitiligo: a survey for Dermatologists and Patients”

Vitiligo is a depigmenting skin condition that can affect any area of the skin. Individuals with vitiligo often experience significant psychological and social impacts. Currently, medical treatments available for vitiligo includes topical or systemic immunosuppressants, phototherapy or surgical grafting though results are often delayed or unsatisfactory. Camouflage therapy involves the use of pigments and dyes to temporarily conceal vitiligo and has been recognised to improve self-esteem and quality of life in adults and children with vitiligo. Despite this, there is limited information regarding camouflaging products for vitiligo and its general use by dermatologists and patients for vitiligo. This project will aim to investigate the current accessibility, usage, perceptions and barriers regarding camouflage products for vitiligo patients and dermatologists around the world. Results of this survey will allow for better understanding into the awareness and attitude to camouflage therapy for vitiligo patients.