Background: Psoriasis has a detrimental effect on patients' quality of life. However, there is a relative dearth of information on which aspects of a patient's well-being are affected by successful treatment.
Objectives: To investigate whether, and to what extent, improvement in the clinical severity of psoriasis induced by photochemotherapy with psoralen plus ultraviolet A (PUVA) translates into meaningful changes in beliefs about psoriasis, coping, stress, distress or disability.
Methods: In a prospective study, 72 patients were assessed before PUVA therapy and again when they had achieved clearance of their psoriasis.
Results: Patients demonstrated significant reductions in psoriasis-related disability, psoriasis-related stress or daily hassles and in the frequency of psoriasis-related symptoms. By comparison, there were no significant differences in levels of anxiety, depression or worrying. Similarly, patients' perceptions about cure, potential chronicity, causes, consequences and coping also remained unchanged.
Conclusions: These results suggest that while clearance of psoriasis produces a significant reduction in factors specific to psoriasis (disability and stress), it does not impact upon psychological distress, on patients' beliefs about psoriasis or on coping. This observation highlights the complex features of patients' psychological experience of psoriasis and may provide further impetus for integration of psychological interventions into standard care protocols.