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Comment & Response
April 4, 2018

Task Shifting in Dermatology—A Call to Action—Reply

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Dermatology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas
  • 2London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, London, England
  • 3Department of Dermatology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
JAMA Dermatol. Published online April 4, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2018.0124

In Reply We greatly appreciate the response by Bishnoi et al to “Task Shifting in Dermatology: A Call to Action.”1 Their group’s use of task shifting for early diagnosis of leprosy throughout remote areas of India is highly commendable. They emphasize that the challenges of task shifting include both the need for well-resourced training centers and “meticulous strategies.” As outlined in their letter, task shifting involves training of an available workforce to meet previously unmet needs in the health care system, which may include community and individual education, diagnosis, referral to tertiary care centers, or treatment. We propose task shifting as a potential means to meet dermatologic needs specifically in lower- and middle-income countries. Worldwide, there exists an inequitable dermatologic treatment gap, and dermatologic disease is the fourth leading cause of morbidity globally.2 What is lacking are large-scale trials assessing the efficacy of (1) training of these health care workers and (2) implementation of task-shifting interventions, specifically in areas of dermatology diagnosis, triage, and treatment. Assessment of efficacy in the dermatologic setting is necessary prior to scaling up task-shifting interventions. The field of psychiatry has demonstrated through large randomized clinical trials in lower- and middle-income countries that community health care providers can effectively implement psychological therapies for diseases such as depression and alcoholism, and we propose that task shifting in dermatology be similarly systematically assessed.3,4

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