Abstract: Patients’ strategies for coping with psoriasis

Journal: Clin Exp Dermatol 2002 May;27(3):177-84
Authors: Fortune DG, Richards HL, Main CJ, Griffiths CE.
Affiliation: Dermatology Centre, University of Manchester School of Medicine, and Department of Behavioural Medicine, Hope Hospital, Salford, UK.
NLM Citation: PMID: 12072002

There is a paucity of research on the types of strategies that patients with psoriasis use to cope with the impact of their condition. By contrast there are a number of studies assessing coping by patients with nondermatological disease.

The purpose of the present study was to examine strategies for coping in patients with psoriasis and investigate whether they differ as compared with normal controls and patients with other major medical diseases. Two hundred and fifty patients with a definite dermatologist-confirmed diagnosis of psoriasis participated in this cross-sectional study. Patients were assessed by psoriasis area severity index and all patients completed the COPE questionnaire and psoriasis disability index. Sixty healthy, control participants completed the COPE questionnaire for comparison purposes.

Mean COPE scores from patients with psoriasis were also compared with published COPE scores from other medical diseases. The coping strategies most frequently used by patients with psoriasis were acceptance, planning, active coping and positive reinterpretation. The least frequently used were alcohol and nonprescription drugs, religion, and denial of their condition.

Despite reporting greater disability, patients with severe psoriasis did not significantly differ from those with mild/moderate disease in their use of particular forms of coping strategies. Patients with psoriasis as a whole tended to use significantly less active coping strategies, planning, positive reinterpretation and humour when compared with normal controls. There was marked similarity in the frequency of use of particular coping strategies between patients with psoriasis and patients with other medical conditions. Similar types of coping strategies are utilized by patients regardless of whether their illness is visible (psoriasis) invisible (chronic fatigue syndrome, atrial fibrillation), has significant physical impairment (spinal cord injury), or is life-threatening (cancer, and myocardial infarction).

It appears that illness brings with it a generic form of coping that may require shaping to fit the individual demands of diseases such as psoriasis.

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