Results of a new survey released recently – World Psoriasis Day – highlight the crucial role of primary care in helping to alleviate the psychological burden felt by severe psoriasis patients. In the Psoriasis Uncovered patient survey – conducted by Abbott Laboratories in partnership with The Psoriasis Association – almost two thirds (63%) of patients with severe psoriasis report that their feelings of self-worth have been adversely affected.[i] What’s more, 25% admit that they have been diagnosed with depression, with almost 1 in 5 believing it was triggered by their condition.1
Less than a third of patients feel able to communicate openly about the emotional impact of psoriasis on their life1 and 50% of those with severe psoriasis think that their fear of what others think of their psoriasis affects them more than the physical challenge of the condition.1 Almost a quarter (22%) claim that they’ve been asked to leave a public place because of their severe psoriasis1 and almost 60% of patients believe that having severe psoriasis has reduced their confidence over time.1
What is particularly worrying is that almost half (49%) of patients with severe psoriasis don’t even talk to their healthcare professional about the emotional impact of the disease on their life.1 This is despite almost two thirds (60%) of such patients feeling comfortable asking general questions about their condition.1 However, for a quarter of all patients living with severe psoriasis, their concerns about their condition are not alleviated when they talk to their healthcare professional.1
The results of the Psoriasis Uncovered patient survey are supported by research carried out earlier this year amongst healthcare professionals, which revealed 4 out of 5 dermatologists don’t consider minimizing the psychological impact of the condition as one of the most important management considerations.[ii]
Clearly with the psychological aspect of the condition weighing heavily on patients, this disconnect needs to be addressed.
“The results of this patient survey highlight the need for availability of psychological input at a primary care level, from the point of diagnosis and beyond,” comments Dr. Cecilia d’Felice, Senior Chartered Psychologist. “As many psoriasis patients present during their teens and early adulthood, greater psychological support needs to be in place early on in order to help minimise issues of low self-esteem and confidence later in life.”
“The survey highlights the need to take into account the whole person when treating psoriasis. Psoriasis is a long-term chronic condition that affects many aspects of day-to-day living.” said Helen McAteer, Chief Executive of The Psoriasis Association. “It is vital that patients feel able to discuss the impact that living with psoriasis has, on both their physical and emotional wellbeing, with their healthcare provider should they want to.”
Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin disease, which occurs as a result of skin cells being produced too quickly. The condition is unpredictable and can vary in its severity from a few pinpoint lesions to large scaly patches. It is estimated that over a million people in the UK are living with psoriasis.