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June 1, 2008

Means to an End, Not the End

Arch Dermatol. 2008;144(6):788-790. doi:10.1001/archderm.144.6.788

Technology has rapidly changed our capabilities in many fields, including medicine. Two of the most important developments have been immediate, on-demand, on-site access to information via the Internet and the ability to easily collect, organize, and analyze huge volumes of information with easy-to-use computerized databases. Our challenge is to best use our new access to information.

In this issue of the Archives, the North American Contact Dermatitis Group has shared a detailed accounting of patch test results in a large number of patients with anogenital dermatitis.1 This sort of epidemiologic data is useful in determining which standard antigens are most and least useful for patch testing in patients with dermatitis in a specific distribution. Data housed in a database such as the multicenter collaboration used for this article are useful to researchers. Many tertiary contact dermatitis centers maintain a similar database that registers patient characteristics such as occupation, areas of skin with dermatitis, and relevance of positive patch test results. There are more permutations of these data of potential interest to researchers than can be covered in any single print report.

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