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New studies reveal impact of most common diseases on work, relationships and even decision to have children

New research into a range of common skin diseases affecting hundreds of thousands of Britons will this week reveal the true impact of the conditions on the lives of patients.

A series of studies, to be presented at the British Association of Dermatologists’ conference in Manchester, will show the influence that diseases such as acne, eczema and psoriasis, can have on people’s relationships, work and everyday lives.

In total, nine out of ten (90 per cent) patients with a chronic skin condition said it had influenced a major life-changing decision – with one in five (22 per cent) saying that their disease had even influenced their decision on whether or not to have children.
One study* found:

• Almost half (46 per cent) said their skin disease had a bearing on their choice of clothing they wore.

• One in five said it influenced whether they wore make-up (22 per cent).

• The same proportion said that their condition prevented them from socializing and a third (34 per cent) had stopped swimming.

• Two thirds (66 per cent) said their skin disease had influenced a major life-changing decision relating to their career, while decisions relating to education (44 per cent) were also affected.

• One in five (20 per cent) said their disease had a bearing on whether they took early retirement.

Another study(1) found that skin conditions are the most frequent reason for people to consult their GP with a new problem, more so than respiratory problems, musculoskeletal disorders and mental illness.

A third study(2), relating just to psoriasis, found that:
• Two thirds of patients with severe symptoms said the disease has had a negative impact on their working life.

• Four out of ten (42 per cent) said the disease had limited their income, or restricted their future employment or career choice.

• A third of such patients (32 per cent) reported discrimination in the workplace on the basis of their condition, while one in five (19 per cent) said that their disease had contributed to them resigning or being dismissed from a job.

• More than a third (37 per cent) felt that, owing to their disease, they have not performed as well in education as they could have done.

• Nine out of ten (87 per cent) felt that their mood, mental health and general enjoyment of life suffers, with three-quarters (73 per cent) saying they have reduced drive and 69 per cent saying they have reduced aspirations because they have psoriasis.

• Psoriasis was also found to influence patients’ personal relationships, with 67 per cent saying that their disease has prevented them pursuing intimate relationships. Three out of ten (29 per cent) have ended an intimate relationship because of their condition.

• Most patients (87 per cent) believed there to be a lack of understanding about psoriasis among the public.

Chief Executive of The Psoriasis Association, Helen McAteer said: “This is the largest UK web-based survey to assess quality of life issues in psoriasis. Our findings illustrate that severe psoriasis has a significant and long-lasting impact on people’s lives in the UK – far greater than was previously appreciated.”

Nina Goad of the British Association of Dermatologists said: “I work with skin disease patients on a daily basis so I am aware of the profound effect that symptoms can have on people’s lives, but despite this I was still stopped in my tracks by some of the findings of this research.

“The fact that such a high number of people cite having a skin disease as a major consideration in the decision of whether to have children, or say that it has brought about the end of a relationship or caused them to stop socializing, is just so sad.

“Add to this the statistics about job losses and discrimination in the workplace, and a clear picture begins to emerge of what so many people in the UK are having to endure. Of course not all patients will be influenced to this degree, but it is worrying that so many are. And we are not talking about one rare disease here, which would be bad enough. Skin conditions are incredibly common.” 
-Ends-
Notes to editors:

1. Background statistics – prevalence of skin disease

• 24% of a GP’s case load is for skin conditions1
• 26% of people report having suffered from a skin rash/allergies/irritated skin, 13% from eczema and 12% from acne/spots, over the preceding 12 months. (‘A Picture of Health’; PAGB / Reader’s Digest 2005, http://www.pagb.co.uk/information/PDFs/Pictureofhealth.pdf)
• Acne affects 80 to 90% of adolescents in the UK, and for 30% of these, their acne will be severe enough to warrant medical attention. 14% of women in the UK aged between 26 and 44 suffer from facial acne.
• Psoriasis is a common skin problem affecting about 2% of the population. It occurs equally in men and women, at any age, and tends to come and go unpredictably. It is not infectious, and does not scar the skin.
• Eczema (atopic eczema) affects at least 1 in 6 school children and about 1 in 20 adults. (Patient UK - http://www.patient.co.uk/health/Atopic-Eczema.htm)
• For information on other skin diseases visit www.bad.org.uk

2. Study details

*Patients with the following diseases were interviewed: psoriasis, eczema, acne, hidradenitis suppurativa, ichthyosis, palmoplantar genodermatosis, alopecia areata, Dariers disease. The influence of chronic skin diseases on major life-changing decisions as a parameter for the assessment of long-term impact.
Z.U. Bhatti, S. Salek* and A.Y. Finlay
Department of Dermatology, School of Medicine, Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales, U.K. and *Centre for Socioeconomic Research, Welsh School of Pharmacy, Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales, U.K.

(1)Updated Dermatology Health Care Needs Assessment: Skin conditions are the commonest new reason people present to general practitioners in England and Wales: implications for education and training.
J. Schofield, D. Fleming,* D. Grindlay† and H. Williams†
United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust, Lincoln, U.K.; *Royal College of General Practitioners Research and Surveillance Unit, Birmingham, U.K. and †Centre of Evidence Based Dermatology, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, U.K.

(2)Survey of 1760 UK adults. 52% defined their disease severity as ‘very active’ or ‘extremely active’ and for the purpose of this study are therefore defined as having severe psoriasis. Severe psoriasis has a greater negative effect on quality of life than previously appreciated: a U.K. web-based patient survey.
A.V. Anstey, G. Edwards* and A. Lass† [m/f]
Aneurin Bevan Health Board, Gwent, U.K.; *Psoriasis Association, London, U.K. and †Abbott UK, Maidenhead, U.K.

Further information and contacts:

If using this research, please mention that the study was released at the British Association of Dermatologists’ Annual Conference.
The conference will be held at Manchester Central conference centre, from July 6th to 8th 2010, and is attended by UK and worldwide dermatologists and dermatology nurses. Case studies and interviews with the researchers available on request. 

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