Allergen immunotherapy (AIT) is used for the treatment of allergic rhinoconjunctivitis as a subcutaneous injection (subcutaneous immunotherapy [SCIT]). Extracts used for SCIT are also used off-label to formulate a liquid delivered as sublingual drops (sublingual immunotherapy [SLIT]). This study was designed to survey patients' experiences and beliefs regarding SCIT and SLIT. People who had ever been diagnosed with nasal and/or ocular allergies were identified in a 2012 telephone survey of U.S. households. Respondents were asked questions about their or their child's use of SCIT and SLIT and their beliefs about AIT. Of 2765 respondents, 46.5% had ever heard of AIT and 22.7% had ever initiated it: 20.9% with SCIT and 1.8% with SLIT (p < 0.0001). The most frequently cited reason for beginning AIT was that symptoms were unresolved with other medications (SCIT, 32.1%; SLIT, 14.0%). Some or full symptom relief was reported by 74.9% of respondents treated with SCIT and 66.0% of those treated with SLIT (p = 0.17 for SCIT versus SLIT). Approximately one-third of respondents who had ever heard of or had been treated with AIT said "don't know" when asked if immunotherapy controls allergy symptoms for years (33.6%), is a very safe treatment (29.3%), or can cure allergy symptoms (27.5%). Effective relief of allergy symptoms was cited most often as the primary benefit of SCIT (37.8%) and convenience was the primary benefit of SLIT (14%). Only one-fifth of respondents had ever been treated with AIT, largely with SCIT. More than one-half of respondents had never heard of AIT and respondents' beliefs indicated a need for educational efforts.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Allergy
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine