Psychosocial factors and chronic spontaneous urticaria: a systematic review

Allergy. 2013 Feb;68(2):131-41. doi: 10.1111/all.12068. Epub 2012 Nov 12.


Background: Chronic spontaneous urticaria (CSU) is one of the most costly allergic conditions challenging physicians as well as patients and their families. Despite evident lacunae in the understanding of the pathogenesis, at least some findings suggest that psychosocial factors likely contribute to the development and exacerbation of CSU. We aim to assess the contribution of psychological factors to CSU.

Methods: Systematic search of PubMed and OVID/Medline databases was conducted from 1 January 1935 to 1 January 2012. Studies selected include original research in English, Spanish and French exploring the association between CSU and psychosocial factors. Two investigators independently reviewed all titles and abstracts to identify potentially relevant articles and resolved discrepancies by repeated review and discussion and arbitration of a third reviewer. Quality of systematic reviews and meta-analyses was assessed using a measure based on the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale and psychological conditions of CSU patients.

Results: We identified 114 eligible studies spanning 77 years and featuring 17 reviews, 67 studies related to neither CSU nor psychosocial factors, and eight studies that provided either no prevalence estimates or insufficient sample size. Pooling effect sizes using random effects, analyses revealed that, despite large heterogeneity (I(2) of 97.60%), psychosocial factors had a prevalence of 46.09% (95% confidence interval, 44.01%, 48.08%).

Conclusion: Future research needs to better establish the contribution of psychosocial factors to the pathogenesis and exacerbation of CSU, and explore the possible benefit of behavioural interventions to the development of new management strategies.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior Therapy
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chronic Disease
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Needs Assessment
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prevalence
  • Prognosis
  • Psychology
  • Quebec / epidemiology
  • Reference Values
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Urticaria / epidemiology*
  • Urticaria / physiopathology
  • Urticaria / psychology*
  • Urticaria / therapy