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Clinical observations and preliminary empirical studies suggest that exacerbations of atopic dermatitis (neurodermatitis, atopic eczema) are related to the presence of stressors, especially stressful social interactions. An inefficient, negative communication could represent a major source of stress in the patients' everyday life. The present study compared the verbal and nonverbal communication behaviour of patients with atopic dermatitis and healthy controls. 20 patients, 20 controls, and their respective significant others participated in the study. Subjects were asked to discuss a mutual problem. The problem discussions were videotaped and coded according to the Interactional Coding System (Kategoriensystem fur Partnerschaftliche Interaktion, KPI) developed by Hahlweg. As predicted, patient dyads made more negative and fewer positive statements than control dyads. The patient group also showed more negative and fewer positive nonverbal interactions. Descriptive sequence analyses for both verbal and nonverbal behaviour indicated that in patient dyads positive/neutral interaction patterns were shorter and less frequent and negative escalations were longer and more frequent than in control dyads.


Journal article


Zeitschrift fur Klinische Psychologie

Publication Date





251 - 264