Stigmatizing attitudes toward persons with psoriasis among laypersons and medical students

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2019 Jun;80(6):1556-1563. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2018.08.014. Epub 2018 Aug 29.


Background: Perceived stigma among patients with psoriasis contributes to poor quality of life.

Objective: To determine the prevalence and predictors of stigmatizing attitudes toward persons with psoriasis among laypersons and medical trainees.

Methods: Laypersons were recruited from's Mechanical Turk (MTurk) (n = 198). Additionally, 187 medical students were recruited via e-mail. Participants completed an online survey in which they viewed images of persons with visible psoriasis. Participants reported their desire to socially avoid the persons in the images, their emotional responses to the persons in the images, and their endorsement of psoriasis-related stereotypes and myths.

Results: MTurk participants endorsed social avoidance items such as not wanting to shake hands with (39.4%) or have the persons in the images in their home (32.3%). Participants stereotyped persons with psoriasis as contagious (27.3%) and endorsed the myth that psoriasis is not a serious disease (26.8%). Linear regression analyses showed that having heard of or knowing someone with psoriasis predicted fewer stigmatizing attitudes (P < .05). The medical students reported less stigmatizing attitudes than the MTurk participants (P < .01).

Limitations: Self-report, single-institution study.

Conclusion: Stigmatizing views of persons with psoriasis are prevalent among people in the United States. Educational campaigns for the public and medical trainees may reduce stigma toward persons with psoriasis.

Keywords: attitudes; laypersons; medical education; psoriasis; stigma.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Avoidance Learning
  • Emotions
  • Ethnicity / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pennsylvania
  • Psoriasis / psychology*
  • Quality of Life
  • Self Report
  • Social Stigma*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stereotyping*
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult