Impact of atopic dermatitis on the quality of life of pediatric patients and their guardians

Researchers from Universidade do Estado do Pará (UEPA), in Belém (State of Pará, Brazil), published a study in Revista Paulista de Pediatria, March 2017 edition, that assessed the impact of atopic dermatitis (AD) on the quality of life of pediatric patients and their guardians from the Service of Dermatology of UEPA in 2015.
 
The authors highlight that the frequency of AD – which is a chronic inflammatory dermatosis of multifactorial etiology and characterized by moderate to intense pruritus – has doubled or even tripled in most parts of the world, in the last three decades. Therefore, it is an important public health issue. Dermatologic diseases are the source of negative impact on emotional status, on social relations and on daily life activities due to the stigma caused by the appearance of lesions. Chronic pruritus is often untreatable, thus affecting the patients' quality of life, harming their sleep and daily life activities. There is also a social, emotional, and financial impact on the patients' families. Parents of affected children report difficulties regarding their children's discipline and care, and consequently, conflicts and alteration in the family structure. Hence, UEPA study aimed at measuring, through validated questionnaires, the impact of AD on the quality of life of pediatric patients and their guardians, who received care in a Pediatric Dermatology reference service located in Eastern Amazon.
 
A descriptive and cross-sectional study was carried out with 5 and 16-year-old patients of both sexes, who had been diagnosed with clinical criteria typical of AD, and with their guardians as well. Two questionnaires in the English language and validated in the United Kingdom were used for assessing the patients’ quality of life –one of them was answered by these children and the other by their guardians.
 
The study has clearly showed the association between disease severity with the emotional impact on the patient and their respective guardians. “AD affects the quality of life of all people involved, and it also influences family dynamics. Therefore, it is very important to include the quality of life assessment of these patients in the clinical examination,” Dr. Carla Andréa Avelar Pires, one of the research authors, emphasizes.
 
According to Dr. Carla, since it is a usual theme in the clinical practice, the disclosure of a study on AD focused on Pediatric Dermatology stimulates more exposure of knowledge and involves disease behavior with a wider look, which includes these patients’ quality of life. “The wider the knowledge, the higher the benefits for both its prevention and treatment adhesion,” she highlighted. The authors defend that education of all those subjects involved in the child’s care is important to treat AD. It is essential to provide simple and clear information without ambiguities to decrease the negative impact on the family’s quality of life, since the lack of knowledge increases the anxiety of caregivers and makes treatment adhesion and general care more difficult, which is essential for the therapeutic success.
 
“From the moment the quality of life is changed, health is not stablished. Knowledge on the influence of AD on the family dynamics should also support that health public policies be thought to soften or control the disease. Among these, health education policies, permanent education and free distribution of skin barrier restorations are highlights," Dr. Carla Andréa Avelar Pires concluded.
 
Contact: Carla Andréa Avelar Pires
Universidade do Estado do Pará, Belém (PA)
E-mail: carlaavelarpires@gmail.com

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