Atopic dermatitis is associated with a decrement in health-related quality of life

Int J Dermatol. 2002 Mar;41(3):151-8. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-4362.2002.01436.x.


Background: Although atopic dermatitis is a chronic skin disease that can have a major impact on a patient's life, the burden of illness associated with this condition has not been well characterized.

Objective: To determine the health-related quality of life (HRQL) of patients with atopic dermatitis by disease severity and to compare it with that of the general public and of patients suffering from other chronic illnesses or skin disorders.

Methods: Two hundred and thirty-nine atopic dermatitis patients aged 4-70 years completed the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form-36 Health Survey (SF-36) and the Dermatology Life Quality Index (DLQI) or the Children's Dermatology Life Quality Index. These HRQL scores were compared by self-reported patient disease severity ratings. Health-related quality of life scores were compared with those of the general population and those of patients with other chronic conditions (clinical depression, hypertension, type 2 diabetes) or skin disease (psoriasis). Dermatology Life Quality Index scores were also compared with those of other skin diseases (such as psoriasis, Darier's disease, and Hailey-Hailey disease).

Results: Patients with atopic dermatitis had inferior scores on the SF-36 vitality, social functioning, and mental health subscales compared with individuals in the general population. In seven of eight subscales, individuals reporting more severe disease had inferior DLQI and SF-36 scores. Patients with atopic dermatitis had inferior mental health scores compared with those with diabetes or hypertension, and inferior social functioning scores compared with patients with hypertension. When compared with a psoriasis cohort, patients with atopic dermatitis had inferior scores in the role-physical, vitality, social functioning, role-emotional, and mental health SF-36 domains. Patients with atopic dermatitis had similar DLQI scores to patients with other chronic dermatologic diseases.

Conclusions: These results demonstrate that atopic dermatitis has an impact on HRQL, particularly in social functioning and psychological wellbeing. Patient-assessed severity of atopic dermatitis correlates with HRQL decrements, indicating greater HRQL impact with greater disease severity. Atopic dermatitis has as large an impact on HRQL as several chronic conditions and other dermatologic conditions.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child Welfare
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / pathology
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires