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Keywords:

  • psoriasis;
  • psychology;
  • quality of life;
  • severity

Summary

Background  Psoriasis has a strong impact on quality of life and is correlated to psychopathological states. It is important to investigate the effect of clinical changes on psychological status.

Objectives  To analyse the extent of clinical change and its effect on the presence of psychiatric morbidity in a group of patients with psoriasis.

Methods  All eligible adults hospitalized with psoriasis in a dermatological hospital (February 2000–February 2002) were given the self-administered Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (SAPASI) to assess clinical severity, the 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) to detect patients with psychological problems (defined as ‘cases’) and the Skindex-29 to evaluate symptoms. The same questionnaires were completed by the patients a month after hospital discharge.

Results  In our population of 414 patients, the incidence of GHQ cases becoming noncases was correlated with the SAPASI percentage improvement, ranging from 17·6% in patients with SAPASI worsened or unchanged at follow-up, to 68·2% in patients with clearance of psoriasis. Also, the proportion of patients who became GHQ noncases was much higher in patients with improvement of ≥ 50% in symptoms, compared with patients with no improvement or worsening (70% vs. 32%, respectively). In a multivariate model the possible determinants of the passage from GHQ case to noncase were: SAPASI improvement, symptom improvement, no localization on the face, and gender (i.e. women were less likely to improve psychologically).

Conclusions  The improvement in clinical severity and symptoms was associated with a decreased frequency of psychiatric disturbance. However, dermatologists should be aware that even in the presence of vast clinical improvement patients may still substantially suffer psychologically.