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Keywords:

  • coping;
  • dermatology;
  • itching;
  • nurses;
  • nursing;
  • pruritus

Aims and objective.  To examine the feasibility of the nursing programme ‘Coping with Itch’ and the effect of the programme on the frequency and intensity of itching and scratching, itch-related coping, skin-related psychosocial morbidity and quality of life.

Background.  Itch is a major symptom of many chronic skin diseases and has a considerable impact on the quality of life. Therefore, the nursing programme ‘Coping with Itch’ has been developed and implemented at the outpatient departments of dermatology of one university and one general hospital in the Netherlands. The programme is intended to reduce itch and to help the patient cope with his or her itch.

Design and methods.  The feasibility of the programme has been determined by interviewing the nurses who carried out the programme, dermatologists and one medical social worker and by counting the number of visits and specific interventions. The effect of the nursing care programme ‘Coping with Itch’ was evaluated in 32 patients with pruritic skin diseases. Paired t-tests were used to determine its effect after three and nine months.

Results.  The nursing programme ‘Coping with Itch’ proved to be practically feasible. It leads to a significant reduction of the frequency and intensity of itching and scratching, to a significant reduction of catastrophizing and helpless coping and to a significant reduction of skin-related psychosocial morbidity in the short term. These results stabilized at nine months. No changes were found in the quality of life.

Conclusion.  The nursing programme ‘Coping with Itch’ is a promising intervention for patients with chronic pruritic skin diseases.