A multi-disciplinary team of researchers conducted a study with the goal of raising the profile of the life course approach, a sociology research tool used in increasing popularity in health research in the field of dermatology. Researchers sought to evaluate and highlight how the concepts and methods of Life Course Epidemiology (LCE) can improve the understanding and management of chronic skin diseases, with a particular focus on psoriasis.
Life Course Research (LCR), initially a research area within the domain of sociology, has been increasingly applied to biological research areas. It is often used in LCE, which focuses on chronic disease patterns over time, patterns of risk, critical time periods, and consequences of accumulation of exposure over time.
The life course approach has been extensively implemented in certain fields of medicine, such as diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease, but its use has been very limited in dermatology and it remains fairly uncommon in chronic skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis and psoriasis. LCE holds real promise especially for chronic diseases that, like psoriasis, highly affect the patient’s quality of life.
In the report, researchers summarize the advances in LCR with special focus on the health research area, and provide an overview of the main publications in dermatology with the life course perspective. Researchers argue that using this approach may help gain more and better insight into the impact of chronic and inflammatory skin diseases over the course of a patient’s life and also help design better predictive models.
The researchers emphasize how the life course approach can improve our understanding of psoriasis, both in its pathogenesis, in which the disease and its course are seen as an outcome, and in a new view that focuses on its outcomes, in which psoriasis is viewed as an exposure, and impaired life course is seen as the outcome.
“Addressing the need to better understand the impact of chronic skin disease over the life course may help identify more vulnerable patients and facilitate more appropriate treatment decisions or earlier referrals for improved patient care,” the researchers conclude.