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Psychological distress and coping strategies in patients with psoriasis: the PSYCHAE Study


  • DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-3083.2007.02079.x

*Corresponding author, VIA Bianca di Savoia 7, Milano, Italy; tel. +39 02 58315409; E-mail:


Objective  Our objectives were to determine the prevalence of psychological distress in a large sample of Italian patients with psoriasis; to establish whether disease severity and psychological distress are associated; to identify the strategies employed to cope with psoriasis; to evaluate the coping strategies employed by dermatologists; and to identify potential predictors of psychological distress.

Design  Cross-sectional.

Setting  Thirty-nine Italian dermatology centres.

Subjects  One thousand five hundred and eighty (1580) patients with psoriasis.

Methods  Minor psychological distress was evaluated using the General Health Questionnaire-12 (GHQ-12) and major psychopathological distress using the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI); coping strategies were evaluated using the Brief COPE questionnaire; disease severity was evaluated using the body surface area index.

Results  Patients were aged 44 ± 13 years (mean ± SD) and were mainly men (57%). Minor psychological distress was present in 46% of patients and major psychopathological distress in 11% of them. Both minor (54% vs. 40%, P < 0.0001) and major (17% vs. 7%, P < 0.0001) distress were more frequent in women than in men. The psychological status of women was worse than that of men independently from the extension of psoriasis. There was no association between the presence of distress and the treatment prescribed by dermatologists. Planning and active coping were the strategies most commonly employed by patients to cope with psoriasis, but there were between-gender differences. Most dermatologists employed a ‘problem-orientated’ attitude in caring for patients.

Conclusions  (i) Psychological distress was relatively frequent in our patients with psoriasis; (ii) female gender was the most important predictive factor for psychological distress; (iii) there was no association between psoriasis severity and psychological distress; (iv) planning and active coping were the coping strategies most frequently employed by patients; and (v) most dermatologists employed a problem-orientated attitude in caring for patients.