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The impact of itch symptoms in psoriasis: results from physician interviews and patient focus groups

Denise Globe1*, Martha S Bayliss2 and David J Harrison1

Author Affiliations

1 Amgen Inc, One Amgen Center Drive, Thousand Oaks, CA, 91320 USA

2 Mapi Values, 3rd Floor 133 Portland Street, Boston, MA 02114, USA

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Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 2009, 7:62  doi:10.1186/1477-7525-7-62

Published: 6 July 2009



The objective of this qualitative study was to better understand the impact of psoriasis symptoms using a 3-part process: 1) develop a disease model for psoriasis to identify the most important concepts relevant to psoriasis patients; 2) conduct interviews with dermatologists to identify key areas of clinical concern; and 3) explore psoriasis patients' perceptions of the impact of psoriasis.


A disease model was developed from a review of the published literature and later revised based on the findings of clinician interviews and patient focus groups. To confirm the clinical relevance of the concepts identified in the disease model, 5 dermatologists were selected and interviewed one-on-one. They were asked to rate major psoriasis symptoms according to importance and bothersomeness level to patients on separate scales of 1 to 10. Results of clinician interviews were used to develop interview guides for patient focus groups. To identify important domains of psoriasis, 39 patients participated in 5 separate concept elicitation focus groups. Four focus groups included patients with severe psoriasis (n = 31) and one included patients with mild psoriasis (n = 8). Patients were asked to describe their current psoriasis symptoms and to rate them on a scale of 1 to 10, according to importance, severity, and troublesomeness. An average mean rating was calculated for each symptom throughout all focus groups.


Clinicians most frequently mentioned itch (n = 5), psoriatic arthritis or "joint pains" (n = 4), flaking (n = 4), and pain (n = 3) as primary physical symptoms of psoriasis. Three clinicians gave a rating of 10 for the importance of itch; two clinicians gave ratings of 8 and 7 for importance. The majority of patients rated itch as the most important (31/39), most severe (31/39), and most troublesome (24/39) symptom and noted that itch negatively impacted daily activities (eg, concentration, sleep, ability to attend work or school), as well as emotions (eg, anxiety and embarrassment).


These analyses suggest that itch is one of the most important symptoms of psoriasis, contributing to diminished health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in patients with both mild and severe disease.