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Treatment adherence to olfactory training: a real-world observational study

Volume: 62 - Issue: 1

First page: 35 - Last page: 45

M. Haas - J. Raninger - J. Kaiser - C.A. Mueller - D.T. Liu

Background: Olfactory training (OT) is considered an effective intervention for most causes of smell loss and is recommended as a long-term treatment. However, the treatment adherence of OT remains unclear. This study aims to identify the frequency and causalities for lack of adherence to OT.
Methods: In this prospective study, 53 patients previously diagnosed with olfactory dysfunction (OD), who were recommended to perform OT, were enrolled. Patients underwent olfactory testing using Sniffin’ Sticks for threshold, discrimination, and identification (TDI) and a subjective numeric rating scale (NRS) at a baseline and follow-up visit. In addition, patients answered a six-item treatment adherence questionnaire. The primary outcome measures were clinically relevant improvements according to the TDI (≥5.5) and NRS (≥1) scores.
Results: Out of 53 patients, 45 performed OT. Among patients who performed OT, 31% discontinued the use of OT on their own due to a self-perceived improvement, while 51% discontinued use due to lack of improvements in olfaction. In these patients, the average duration of OT use was five months. After controlling for baseline duration of OD, baseline TDI score and smell loss aetiologies, discontinuing OT due to a lack of self-perceived improvement remained significantly associated with worse TDI and NRS outcomes at follow-up.
Conclusions: Our data show that therapeutical adherence to OT is low, regardless of patients’ perception of olfactory function. Olfactory improvement leads to decreased training due to satisfaction, while lack of improvement leads to non-adherence based on disappointing subjective outcome. Patients should be advised to perform OT consistently.

Rhinology 62-1: 35-45, 2024

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