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Screenshots of Sidekick's engaging Atopic Dermatitis program.
April 13, 2022
reviewed by
Sigríður Lára Guðmundsdóttir and Judit Mészáros

Sidekick’s Feasibility Study Shows Improvement for Patients with Atopic Dermatitis

Living with Atopic Dermatitis

It is estimated that more than 26 million Americans suffer with AD and the disease can cause not only debilitating pruritus, but also disturbed sleep patterns and mental distress. These knock-on effects can have substantial socio-economic implications too: up to half of all adults with AD say they experience lifestyle limitations and/or have had their work or education negatively impacted by the burden of the disease.

Sidekick recognizes the widespread implications for a patient diagnosed with atopic dermatitis and that dermatological conditions require sustained, holistic support to achieve effective control and comfort for the patient, but limited data are currently available regarding the feasibility and effectiveness of digitally delivered lifestyle interventions for AD patients.

Sidekick has therefore developed a holistic DTx and lifestyle program to support healthy lifestyle behavioral change and to empower patients with AD to manage and ultimately improve their symptoms. The program is delivered via a smartphone app and provides education and medication reminders, allows the user to track symptoms, log meditation, meals and physical activity, and offers communication with a lifestyle coach.

Study Design

  • A 6-week long, single arm, interventional feasibility study.
  • A cohort of 21 adult patients with mild to severe AD were recruited, who were all using some form of topical medication (e.g. corticosteroid containing creams and emollients).
  • Patients were asked to use a therapeutic program delivered via a smartphone app that focused on disease and trigger education to support positive habit formation, daily medication reminders, symptom tracking, and one-on-one communication with a lifestyle coach.

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Outcome Measurements

Engagement and retention were measured based on activity in the app and a detailed analysis about these will be published separately. Clinical outcomes were also measured via several questionnaires and scoring indices at baseline and post-treatment:

  • Eczema extension and severity and subjective problems with itching and sleep were measured by Scoring Atopic Dermatitis (SCORAD)
  • Frequency and subjective severity of AD related symptoms were measured by Patient-Oriented Eczema Measure (POEM)
  • Quality of life was measured by Dermatology Life Quality Index (DLQI)
  • Adherence to guidelines and preventive measures was evaluated by a six-question survey


The participants were on average relatively healthy young adults (median age of 31, mean BMI of 25.7, 95% non-smokers and 71% university-educated). They were also highly engaged as they used the app nearly every day (median of 6.5 days per week). Over the six weeks, Sidekick users saw on average:

  • Eczema severity improved by 44% (from 56.1 (SD 16.7) to 31.2 (SD 18.4), SCORAD, p<0.001)
  • Patient-reported symptom severity improved by 46% (from 15.7 (SD 6.7) to 8.5 (SD 4.9), POEM, p<0.001)
  • Dermatology-related quality of life improved by 41% (from 7.9 (SD 4.5) to 4.6 (SD 4.0), DLQI, p<0.001)
  • We also found an overall increase in adherence to treatments and preventive measures, as patients reported using skincare and avoiding triggers more regularly. Importantly, those patients who reported never learning methods for relaxation, seeking AD-related advice or education at baseline, changed their behaviour to do these activities more regularly after the program.
  • Patients who paid more attention to their skincare saw significantly larger improvements in their symptoms and they also tended to have higher program engagement.
Patient-centric education and support programmes are immensely important for the holistic management of patients with dermatological disease, especially programmes which recognize the importance of patients’ psychological wellbeing. The app developed by Sidekick is a great way of empowering patients through the app’s programmes and modules.
Prof. Anthony Bewley BA (Hons) FRCP (UK)


Patients with AD showed high engagement with the Sidekick app in this six-week study. Our findings suggest that an AD-specific digital therapeutic can help with behavioral change through disease and trigger education and increased awareness, which may then lead to improved clinical outcomes.

Thus, patients can benefit from a multidisciplinary approach offered by Sidekick – one that targets multiple elements of disease management such as nutrition, sleep, stress, medication, mindfulness and more.

Following the success of this pilot study, further clinical trials will be planned to bolster data on the use of the program in supporting people diagnosed with AD. The pilot study has identified areas for refinement of the DTx program to improve clinical effiacy, and has provided opportunities for future randomized controlled trials.

Sidekick is confident that the positive initial results from this study will help realize our vision for the rollout of an atopic dermatitis DTx and lifestyle program as a core therapeutic, empowering patients to monitor and manage their skin condition and overall health.

With a comprehensive treatment plan in place, focusing on more than just pharmacological suppression of physical symptoms, the psychological wellbeing of patients can be improved too, boosting their overall quality of life.


Gudmundsdóttir, S.L., Ballarini, T., Ámundadóttir, M.L. et al. Clinical Efficacy of a Digital Intervention for Patients with Atopic Dermatitis: a Prospective Single-Center Study. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb)12, 2601–2611 (2022).

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About the author

Dr. Nessie Riley

Nessie Riley is a medical writer, veterinarian, and advocate for accessible healthcare for all.

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