28 October 2022
By The Health & Happiness Research Foundation
Psoriasis affects more than a 100 million people worldwide, yet it can be a very lonely experience to live with the disease. Psoriasis not only affects the skin by making it feel very painful, itchy and sore. It can also make you more self conscious, influence which clothes you feel comfortable wearing, and prevent you from wanting to participate in social activities. With saying ‘no’ to social activities and feeling too embarrassed to leave the house, comes the feeling of alienation from family, friends and the wider community, isolation and loneliness. Yet, research is sparse on the impact loneliness can have on the wellbeing of people living with psoriasis. In the World Psoriasis Happiness Report, we found loneliness to be a serious risk factor for people with psoriasis.
It is widely recognised that psoriasis affects quality of life, and evaluating both the physical and emotional aspects of the disease is part of healthcare routines to detect changes in how the disease and treatment impact the daily life of patients. Quality of life is measured by the Dermatology Life Quality Index (DLQI). It is used in 80+ countries, available in 125 languages and has been applied in more than 3,000 publications. However, this measure does not account for loneliness. And loneliness is rarely addressed in a healthcare context. Based on the data from the World Psoriasis Happiness Report, we compared the DLQI to measures of life evaluation and loneliness. Here, we found that loneliness highly impacts the quality of life of people living with psoriasis.
Recognising that loneliness impacts a patient’s overall wellbeing may be crucial to improve overall patient outcomes. In other words, including loneliness in health measures and, more importantly, in the interactions between doctors and patients, will be a stepping stone towards better patient outcomes and creating overall better wellbeing.
At the Health & Happiness Research Foundation, we have been advocating for many years for the recognition of the significant impact psoriatic disease might have on the mental and social wellbeing of those affected. We use data and insights to engage with healthcare professionals and various stakeholders to highlight the importance of investing in understanding the mental and social aspects of living with psoriatic disease, and of developing comprehensive and wellbeing-centric treatment plans.