Treatment of atopic dermatitis: a comparison of psychological and dermatological approaches to relapse prevention.
Ehlers A., Stangier U., Gieler U.
A randomized controlled trial compared the effectiveness of 4 group treatments for atopic dermatitis, a chronic skin disorder characterized by severe itching and eczema: dermatological educational program (DE), autogenic training as a form of relaxation therapy (AT), cognitive-behavioral treatment (BT), and the combined DE and BT treatments (DEBT). BT comprised relaxation, self-control of scratching, and stress management. Group treatments were also compared with standard medical care (SMC). Assessments at 1-year follow-up showed that the psychological treatments (AT, BT, and DEBT) led to significantly larger improvement in skin condition than intensive (DE) or standard (SMC) dermatological treatment, accompanied by significant reductions in topical steroids used. The results corroborate preliminary reports that psychological interventions are useful adjuncts to dermatological treatment in atopic dermatitis.