Predictors of Perceived Stigma in Psoriasis Patients Identified by Researchers

Predictors of Perceived Stigma in Psoriasis Patients Identified by Researchers

The physical aspects of psoriasis can result in a substantial social burden for patients, of which stigmatization is an important aspect. Researchers have identified the main predictors of perceived stigmatization, which can be used to establish intervention strategies for patient relief.

The research paper, “Predictors of perceived stigmatization in patients with psoriasis,” was published in the British Journal of Dermatology.

Psoriasis, a chronic inflammatory disease, is characterized by the development of red, scaly skin patches, affecting the physical appearance of patients to varied degrees. This cosmetic negative aspect is usually accompanied by a substantial social burden, with patients often reporting feeling stigmatized, defined as alienation and social discrimination.

This topic has been of interest to researchers and clinicians, as it affects patients deeply. A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology and funded by the National Psoriasis Foundation investigated the causes of the stigma surrounding certain skin diseases and found that psoriasis, as well as herpes, is a highly stigmatized disease, partially due to misconceptions from the general population that psoriasis is contagious. The study, by Sylvia van Beugen and her colleagues from Leiden University in the Netherlands, described the nature of such stigmatization, which included reactions from staring to asking patients to leave public places.

Despite the well-known negative effects of stigmatization on patients’ well-being, the correlating factors and possible effective prevention measures have been poorly investigated. In this study, researchers administered questionnaires to 514 patients with psoriasis and analyzed several characteristics, such as sociodemographic, disease-related, personality, illness cognitions, and social support variables, looking for possible predictive correlations.

Results indicate that in the patients studied, 73 percent felt stigmatized, correlating with all five of the evaluated group variables. Specifically, stigmatization was associated with “higher impact on daily life, lower education, higher disease visibility, severity, and duration, higher levels of social inhibition, having a Type D personality, and not having a partner.”

The findings may provide a prediction tool for the identification of stigmatization, a common perceived notion in patients.

“These predictor variables provide indications on which patients are especially vulnerable regarding perceived stigmatization, which might be used in treatment,” the researchers wrote in the conclusions.

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