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Cutis. 1998 Jun;61(6):339-42.

Perceived deprivation of social touch in psoriasis is associated with greater psychologic morbidity: an index of the stigma experience in dermatologic disorders.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada.


Touch is a powerful medium of social validation. Patients with skin disorders often experience social rejection when people avoid touching them, possibly fearing contagion or filth. We examined the psychologic impact of the stigma experience among 137 patients with moderate to severe psoriasis; 26.3 percent of patients reported that during the previous month they had experienced an episode when "people made a conscious effort not to touch them" because of their psoriasis. The stigmatized group did not have greater psoriasis severity than the non-stigmatized control group. However, in contrast to the non-stigmatized group, the stigmatized group had higher (P = 0.0003) depression scores (in the range for clinical depression, as measured by the Carroll Rating Scale for Depression), by stepwise logistic regression analysis using a wide range of psychopathologic measures as the independent variables. These findings underline the profound impact of the stigma experience in psoriasis, and possibly other dermatologic conditions that are associated with social stigma.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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