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The psychological sequelae of psoriasis: Results of a qualitative study

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Psoriasis is a common condition with recognised psychological comorbidity in specialist practice. The objective of this study was to investigate the psychological comorbidities in psoriasis in patients from general (family) practices and specialist dermatology practices, using a qualitative methodology. This was a qualitative study, utilising semi-structured interviews and thematic analysis. Twenty-nine patients with psoriasis were recruited from general practices and specialist dermatology practices in an Australian non-capital city. Respondents represented a broad range of ages and psoriasis severities. The principle study finding was that psychological morbidity in psoriasis is considerable. Though mood and anxiety symptoms were present in participants, and were occasionally severe, more prominent sequelae of psoriasis were embarrassment, shame, impaired self-image, low self-esteem, self-consciousness and stigmatisation. Psoriasis was associated with behavioural avoidance and effects on respondents' sexuality. The perception of psoriasis as an incurable disease beyond respondents' control, with consequent pessimism regarding prognosis and treatment efficacy, was a contributor to psychological morbidity. Some respondents reported psoriasis having permanently and adversely affected their personality - avoidant personality traits were ascribed to the experience of living with psoriasis. Our conclusion is that the psychological effects of psoriasis can be considerable and long-lasting and are evident across a broad range of psoriasis severities. Clinicians should be aware that psychological sequelae are complex and encompass a range of psychological morbidities beyond conventional psychiatric diagnoses.
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Keywords: anxiety; depression; mental disorders; psoriasis

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Discipline of General Practice, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, Australia 2: Division of Epidemiology and Social Medicine, University of Queensland, Herston, Australia 3: Broken Hill Centre for Remote Health Research, University of Sydney, Broken Hill, Australia 4: Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia

Publication date: March 1, 2009

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