At the end of last year we were approached by the Vitiligo clinic at St John’s Institute of Dermatology, led by Dr. John Ferguson (Consultant Dermatologist) and including clinical psychologist (Dr. Mark Turner), requesting funding assistance for a new research study their team were planning.
The research team were interested in exploring explanations as to why people with Vitiligo experience poor health-related quality of life and distress. In particular, they were interested in if such explanations
include illness perceptions and stigma.
What are illness perceptions and why are they important?
Illness perceptions refer to a patient’s beliefs about the nature, cause and effects of their health problem. They are formed based on a person’s personal and family-based experiences with illness as well as those formed by visiting professionals. Illness perceptions have been shown to offer a strong explanation for why people with a number of long-term illnesses experience poor outcomes, such as depressive mood, anxiety, and impaired quality of life. This finding holds true even after accounting for more objective measures of skin disease used in the dermatology department.
What makes this research unique and important?
The research team were unaware of any other clinical – academic group currently researching both illness perceptions and stigma in the same comprehensive vitiligo study.
We believe that it is important not to assume that the management of skin conditions is entirely about medical treatment and indeed psychological support is likely to help too.
Why we felt this research was a priority for funding support
Denise Oduntan, trustee of The Vitiligo Society explained:
As a society we felt this research was important to fund as it seems to be the first of its class. We know that many people that have vitiligo suffer from mental health issues and we feel this study can help shape the support that vitiligo patients have access to. We are also very aware that people from different cultures suffer different levels of stigma and this study can really help to understand that more.
We are looking forward to sharing the results of this research with you all soon!