Background Psoriasis has a great impact on the quality of life of patients, and the ageing population is an important public health issue.
Objectives To investigate whether older patients with psoriasis have a different impairment in quality of life compared with younger patients, considering level of severity, duration of disease, gender and psychological distress.
Methods The study was performed between February 2000 and February 2002 at the inpatient wards of the Dermatological Institute IDI-IRCCS, Rome, Italy, in the framework of a large project on clinical, epidemiological, emotional and quality of life aspects of psoriasis (IMPROVE study). This is a hospital-based cross-sectional study, with measures of quality of life (Skindex-29, Dermatology Life Quality Index and Psoriasis Disability Index) and of psychological distress, generic (12-item General Health Questionnaire) and psoriasis-related (Psoriasis Life Stress Inventory), all self-assessed by patients. We compared the mean scores of each quality of life instrument in patients aged < 65 years and ≥ 65 years, in subsets of patients based on clinical and sociodemographic characteristics.
Results We analysed 936 patients hospitalized at IDI-IRCCS with a diagnosis of psoriasis. Quality of life was significantly more impaired in the older group for all the Skindex-29 scales, and psychological distress was higher in older patients. In particular, older women suffering from anxiety or depression had the greatest impairment in quality of life. The results were somewhat different using the other quality of life instruments.
Conclusions These results should alert dermatologists that similar levels of clinical severity in psoriasis may be associated with different levels of quality of life and psychological distress of patients. Particular attention should be devoted to older patients, and especially to older women.