Background: Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a chronic inflammatory skin disease particularly prevalent during the first years of life. The chronic course of AD is a serious problem for affected children and their families. Since the condition provokes extreme itching with continuous scratching that often maintains or exacerbates the inflammation of the skin, the behavioural component of the disease is especially problematic. Moreover, the chronic course and the frequent relapses that characterise AD are a particular burden for the children and their caregivers. To improve long-term outcome in the management of childhood AD, it is important to give parents support in dealing with the chronic disease of their child in addition to medical treatment. Objective: The aim of our programme was to inform families of children with AD about the course of the disease, to improve the family management and to offer them an opportunity for a more open and wide medical dialogue. Methods: Our educational programme consisted of six 2-hour group sessions, conducted at weekly intervals. Sessions were managed by a multidisciplinary team composed of a paediatrician-allergist, a psychologist and a dermatologist. The following issues were covered in the sessions: epidemiology, natural history of the disease, diagnostics and treatment, stress management, psychological counselling on sleeping problems and itchingscratching. Results: Parents reported that the programme well improved the quality of life of their family, particularly thanks to better knowledge and understanding of the disease. Discussion:The programme may encourage an active rather than a passive coping style in the families involved. During routine clinical care it is difficult to recognize and deal with all family troubles and doubts, which are for the most part caused by a poor knowledge of the disease.

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