science - Sec Sri Med Vol 20 No 4 pp 425-429 1985 Printed...

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Sec. Sri. Med. Vol. 20, No. 4. pp. 425-429, 1985 0277-9536185 $3.00 + 0.00 Printed in Great Britain Pergamon Press Ltd SKIN DISEASE AND HANDICAP: AN ANALYSIS OF THE IMPACT OF SKIN CONDITIONS SANDRA JOWETT and TERENCE RYAN Department of Dermatology, Slade Hospital, Headington, Oxford, England Abstract-This research sought to quantify the handicapping effect of skin conditions in a far more rigorous way than had previously been attempted. One hundred people who had attended a hospital outpatient clinic during a specified period for treatment of their acne, psoriasis or eczema were interviewed in their homes. A comprehensive and structured interview schedule was used and interviewees were encouraged to talk at length about the impact that their skin conditions had had on their lives. Detailed data were collected that show the serious effect that these diseases can have in several domains. The findings record not only the physical discomfort and inconvenience sufferers may meet but also the consequences for their persona1 and social life and daily functioning. There is evidence from interviewees’ employment experiences of limited opportunities, and functional and interpersonal difficulties in the workplace. 64 7” of people said that their skin disease affected their socio-economic activity. The extent to which sufferers experienced embarrassment, anxiety, a lack of confidence and depression is documented. 40”/, of people felt that their social life was affected and there was evidence of particular stresses and demands in personal relationships. The social impact of skin disease is discussed. _ INTRODUCTION RESULTS This research quantifies and analyses some of the consequences of skin disease that hitherto have been largely presented in an anecdotal and unstructured way [l&3]. While some interest has been shown in the impact of skin disease [4-71 the literature provides more evidence about prevalence [8-lo] and the allocation of health care resources [l l-141 than about effects. This paper focuses on how having a skin disease affects occupational, social and emotional functioning. The interviewees The interviews METHOD Seven people refused to take part in the research and nine did not reply to the letters, giving a response rate of between 86 and 93 y0 depending on how many of the nine did not receive their correspondence. Despite initial reluctance by some people-“1 couldn’t really think what you would find to ask me about”-most people were co-operative and interested in the research. Many of those interviewed said that they welcomed the opportunity to talk about these aspects of their lives and the interviewer was frequently thanked for her time and concern. The population was all those aged over 16 who attended an outpatient clinic between two specified dates for treatment of their acne, psoriasis or eczema.
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