What Does ‘Quality of Life’ Mean When You Have Psoriasis?

A qualitative study explored the quality of life in patients living with psoriasis—as well as what the phrase means to them.

“At present, there is a need to refine quality of life measures for patients with psoriasis, in order to identify issues that are important to them, such as disease stigma and prejudice, among others. Often, these are not included in the quality of life instruments available in the literature,” the researchers explained.

The study took place at a dermatology outpatient clinic of the São Paulo State University (UNESP) medical school, Botucatu, Brazil. Patients with psoriasis took part in face-to-face interviews that lasted about 20 minutes. Sociodemographic data were collected, and the interviews included the following questions:

  • What do you understand by quality of life?
  • In your opinion, does psoriasis interfere with your quality of life? If yes, in what aspects?
  • In your perception, how could your quality of life be improved in relation to psoriasis?

Data analysis was performed using the Discourse of the Collective Subject (DCS) method.

The 81 patients (mean age, 50 years) who were interviewed were mostly male (54%), married/living with a partner (70%), and had completed elementary education (60%). The mean age at onset of disease was 36 years. Most patients had a monthly income ranging from $322 to $879 (61%).

Three themes emerged, along with several central ideas for each:

  • Meaning of quality of life
    1. Well-being
    2. Solidarity
    3. Financial stability
    4. Good nutrition
    5. Do not have stress and concerns
    6. Be happy
    7. Having leisure and practicing physical activity
    8. Being employed
  • Impact of psoriasis on quality of life
    1. Symptoms of the disease (pain and itching)
    2. Behavior (shame)
    3. Increased stress
    4. Frustration and suffering
    5. Link inseparable from treatment
    6. Commitment to professional activities
    7. Stigma of disease
    8. Contagiousness
    9. Restriction on clothing
  • Contributions to improve quality of life in psoriasis
    1. More efficient drugs
    2. Clarification of the lay population
    3. Acceptance of the disease
    4. Possibility of healing
    5. Treatment adherence
    6. Have multidisciplinary service
    7. Stress reduction

The researchers stated that “public health policies to increase knowledge and awareness of the general population about psoriasis are needed. This approach will help to explain the impact of psoriasis on a person’s life and, hopefully, reduce the prejudice surrounding it and facilitate social inclusion. After all, what defines a person goes far beyond their skin.”

The study was published in BMC Dermatology.

“The findings from this study reflect not only the perceptions of quality of life, but also reveal the stigma, prejudice and social difficulties faced by patients living with psoriasis. Quality of life for these participants is a subjective, multidimensional concept and often based on the satisfaction of basic human needs for the individual,” the authors concluded.