Psychological Intervention for People with Vitiligo

Identifying key components for vitiligo psychological intervention

A poster based on the results of a patient and health professional survey to identify psychological interventions for vitiligo has been accepted for display at the 2015 BAD meeting in Manchester. The study was made possible thanks to a grant from the UK Dermatology Clinical Trials Network.

Many of our members will have participated in this survey, which has produced vital data to aid in the development of novel strategies to address the psychological impact of vitiligo on people’s life. Psychological therapies have been identified as a research priority in the treatment of vitiligo. Despite this, only one randomized experiment comparing group cognitive behavioral treatment (CBT) to group person-centered therapy for vitiligo has been reported. No published research that we are aware of has attempted to construct an adequate psychological therapy for vitiligo from both the patient and practitioner viewpoints. As a result, the one-of-a-kind survey mentioned above will be useful in the future treatment of vitiligo patients.

Vitiligo patients answered online questionnaires, while health professionals involved in the care of vitiligo patients completed a second version. The patients’ survey collected personal information and centered on the impact of vitiligo on daily life. It also intended to determine the most challenging issues that patients experienced, as well as which ways they believed would be beneficial in dealing with their vitiligo. The study also looked into whether these interventions could be provided through the NHS.

The patient questionnaire was completed by 100 vitiligo patients, 82 percent of whom experienced vitiligo for 10 years or longer. 70% of those polled were female, and 92 percent were Caucasians (a similar proportion of the population in the national statistics). The survey was completed by 39 health professionals, with 67 percent of dermatologists and 15% of psychologists participating.

Patients’ main concerns were acceptance of their vitiligo, the duration of the disease, and dealing with shame. Participating in sports and being exposed to sunshine were also causes for concern. A study of healthcare professionals yielded similar results, however the psychosexual disorders identified by them were not deemed as essential by the patients.

When it came to devising interventions, patients considered that mechanisms that helped them accept and comprehend vitiligo, as well as coping with the disease’s shame in social circumstances, were significant. Self-confidence and self-esteem were also major concerns.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and mindfulness therapy were among the interventions recommended by professionals to treat these concerns. Although 58 percent of patients preferred individual therapy, these therapies could be administered in groups or individually.

This survey found that both patients and healthcare experts agree that psychosocial therapies for vitiligo are necessary.


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