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Bidirectional relationships between psychological health and dermatological conditions in children

Authors Mitchell AE

Received 26 January 2018

Accepted for publication 1 May 2018

Published 31 July 2018 Volume 2018:11 Pages 289—298

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/PRBM.S117583

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Andrew Yee

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Igor Elman


Amy E Mitchell

Parenting and Family Support Centre, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia

Abstract: Dermatological conditions are common among children. They are a frequent cause of presentation to health care services and a leading contributor to burden of disease. Evidence supports the notion that bidirectional relationships exist between children’s physical and psychological health, whereby the child’s dermatological condition can impact their psychological health and well-being, while, in the reverse direction, psychological factors (eg, stress) can impact the severity and course of the child’s skin disease. The psychological impact of dermatological conditions in childhood needs to be taken into account during the assessment, planning, and treatment phases of management. Likewise, the potential effect of children’s emotional and behavioral difficulties on management, particularly in terms of the impact on parents’ ability to implement their child’s treatment plan, should be considered. This literature review summarizes the current evidence for the relationships between three common chronic dermatological conditions of childhood – atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, and urticaria – and psychological adjustment and quality of life in childhood. Overall, a general paucity of research in the pediatric context – combined with limitations in terms of study design, variability in operationalization of constructs, and heterogeneity in measurement of outcomes – makes it difficult to draw firm conclusions in this area. Based on the available research, implications for successful long-term management of these conditions are discussed in terms of integrating psychological and parenting support with medical management to improve adherence, reduce disease severity, and improve quality of life for children and their families.

Keywords: atopic dermatitis, child behavior, dermatology, parenting, psoriasis, urticaria

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