Psoriasis is a dermatological disease that deeply impacts patients, not only physically but also emotionally when it comes to body image, self-esteem and overall quality of life. Researchers at the Medical University of Warsaw conducted a study aimed at characterizing patient needs for improved quality of life, and how the severity of disease is impacted by needs.
The research paper, titled “Quality of life and severity of skin changes in the dynamics of psoriasis,” was published in Advances in Dermatology and Allergology.
The chronic inflammatory disease is distinguished by red scaly rashes and itching of the skin.
Treatment for psoriasis is usually external, physical and general. But the skin is intimately connected to human aesthetics and appearance, placing an important role in emotional expression, nonverbal communication and interpersonal relationships. Many believe that treatment for psoriasis should also consider the patient’ s emotional well-being, self-esteem and body image, instead of a strictly therapeutic focus on biological aspects and clinical outcomes.
In the recent study, researchers sought to identify the areas of life that could deteriorate due to severity of psoriasis symptoms. The study focused on four areas: somatic, psychological, social and environmental quality of life, and then related those aspects to the severity of clinical symptoms.
The study included 100 patients, ages 18 to 66. The patients’ dermatological condition was assessed with the Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI). Patients were given a questionnaire, medical interview and the WHOQOL-BREF standard questionnaire for assessment of socio-economic and clinical conditions.
The research results show that reduced quality of life stems from two factors. On one hand, it is caused by the patient’s own negative self-image and intra-psychic problems; on the other hand, it is a consequence of stigma from the patient’s social environment.
Reduced quality of life correlated with increased symptom difficulty. Three factors; severity of psoriatic skin changes, duration of recurrence and sex had the greatest impact on the patients’ quality of life. Authors believe that conclusions will help dermatologists design more patient-specific treatments that will increase adherence to medication regiments and encourage involvement in the entire therapeutic process.
Researchers concluded: “Patients know best what aspects of life are most important for them and to what extent their illness is preventing them from gleaning satisfaction from their everyday functioning. Quality of life scales enable comprehensive assessment of the consequences of illness and are an objective indicator which can help to assess real treatment progress.”