Author(s): Picardi A, Abeni D, Melchi CF, Puddu P, Pasquini P
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Abstract BACKGROUND: There is a high prevalence of psychiatric disorders in dermatological outpatients. OBJECTIVES: To estimate the magnitude of this problem and to identify a set of variables associated with the presence of psychiatric disorder. METHODS: All adults attending the outpatient clinics of a dermatological hospital on predetermined days were given a questionnaire comprising the Skindex-29 and the 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12). RESULTS: In total, 4268 questionnaires were given at admission, and 3125 were returned. Of these, 546 were blank or incomplete, leaving 2579 respondents (response rate 60.4\%). Using a stringent cut-off threshold (> or = 5) for psychiatric case identification with the GHQ-12, scored in the conventional way, the overall prevalence of psychiatric morbidity was 25.2\% (95\% confidence interval 23.6-27.0\%). We found a higher prevalence of psychiatric disorders in women and in widows/widowers, controlling for age. Health-related quality of life was a much stronger predictor of psychiatric morbidity than physician-rated clinical severity. High prevalence rates (> 30\%) were observed among patients with acne, pruritus, urticaria, alopecia and herpesvirus infections, and in subjects without objective signs of dermatological disease. CONCLUSIONS: Our study has depicted the situation that is actually faced by dermatologists in their everyday practice, where they are in a unique position to recognize psychiatric morbidity and to take appropriate measures. The GHQ-12, being easy for patients to compile and for physicians or nurses to score, may be a practical tool to increase identification of patients with substantial psychological distress or formal psychiatric disorder in order to provide more comprehensive and appropriate intervention.
This article was published in Br J Dermatol
and referenced in Journal of Psychiatry