Concepts of patients with alopecia areata about their disease.
BACKGROUND: Alopecia areata (AA) is a common and chronic skin disease with an unknown etiology. It may significantly affect the patient quality of life. This study was designed to evaluate the illness perception in patients with AA.
METHODS: A questionnaire consisting of 25 questions about causes, timeline, consequences and control of disease were given to 80 patients with AA attending a skin clinic in Tehran, Iran. The impact of age, gender, duration of disease, education, extent of disease and family history of AA were also assessed.
RESULTS: Eighty patients (38 male and 42 female) with a mean age of 27.5 years (SD = 9.3) and disease duration of 7.8 years (SD = 7.7) completed the questionnaire. 76.9% of the patients believed that the role of stress was the cause of disease. 17.1 % believed genetic background to be the main cause, this found to be more frequent in patients with positive family history of AA. More than half of patients believed that their illness had major consequences on their lives and 40% of patients believed that their illness would be likely to be permanent rather than temporary, more in patients with longer duration of disease. Only 57.5% of patients considered their treatments to be effective.
CONCLUSION: AA may considerably affect various aspects of patients' lives. The patient knowledge about the causes and course of this disease is limited.