Common burden of chronic skin diseases? Contributors to psychological distress in adults with psoriasis and atopic dermatitis

Br J Dermatol. 2005 Jun;152(6):1275-81. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2133.2005.06565.x.


Background: Chronic skin diseases, such as atopic dermatitis and psoriasis, are known to affect quality of life by heightening psychological distress. Knowledge about factors contributing to psychological distress is essential for supporting physicians in diagnostic and multidisciplinary treatment options for patients psychologically at risk.

Objectives: To examine whether generic physical, psychological and social factors relevant to patients with chronic diseases might contribute to psychological distress in adults with psoriasis and atopic dermatitis.

Methods: Self-report data on clinical skin status, physical symptoms of itching and fatigue, impact of the disease on daily life, illness cognitions and social support were collected from 128 patients with psoriasis and 120 patients with atopic dermatitis (aged over 16 years).

Results: For patients with either skin disease, clinical status and physical symptoms of itching scarcely affected psychological distress. Instead, higher levels of fatigue, perceived helplessness and less social support best predicted psychological distress in patients with both skin diseases in multiple regression analyses.

Conclusions: Results demonstrate that generic physical, psychological and social aspects play a role in chronic skin diseases and suggest that multidisciplinary care for patients with psoriasis and atopic dermatitis can be greatly improved by integrating common screening and treatment components for chronic diseases.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / psychology
  • Fatigue / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psoriasis / psychology
  • Regression Analysis
  • Skin Diseases / psychology*
  • Social Support
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urticaria / psychology