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The present study was performed to investigate whether patients with atopic dermatitis differ as a group from controls on psychological measures of mood and personality or whether psychologically deviant and normal patient subgroups can be distinguished. Furthermore, we were interested in what clinical characteristics might co-vary with psychological disability in patients with atopic dermatitis. In all, 93 patients filled in a standardized mood scale (Hamburg-Erlanger-Stimmungsbarometer) and a personality scale (Kurztest zur Erfassung der Persönlichkeitsstruktur). Compared with matched controls, patients described themselves as being more anxious, more aroused, more depressed and less energetic, and they reached higher neuroticism scores. A cluster analysis identified four patient subgroups. Only one of the subgroups (n = 17) was psychologically disabled according to the questionnaire scores. In contrast to a psychologically stabile patient group, the psychologically disabled patients showed an earlier age of onset of dermatitis, but less intense itching and scratching. They reported more somatic complaints and a higher level of familial stress, were more dissatisfied with their life situation and work, had fewer friends and experienced more losses of significant others. Furthermore, they more frequently rated their disorder as being determined by psychological factors and were more intelligent. Thus, the questionnaires identified a subgroup of patients who may need psychotherapeutic interventions.


Journal article



Publication Date





416 - 423


Adolescent, Adult, Affect, Aged, Cluster Analysis, Dermatitis, Atopic, Female, Humans, Intelligence, Male, Middle Aged, Personality, Psychological Tests, Psychophysiologic Disorders, Surveys and Questionnaires