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Itching is a core symptom of dermatological disorders such as atopic dermatitis. Patients find itching very distressing. We developed the Itching Cognitions Questionnaire which assesses coping cognitions related to itching (scale coping) and cognitions expressing helplessness and catastrophizing of the itch sensation (scale catastrophizing). The scales were found to have high internal consistencies. The questionnaire, in particular the scale catastrophizing. explained variance of the patients' illness-related and itching-related distress independent of the severity of the skin lesions. In a comparative treatment study, scores on the scale coping only improved with psychological treatment (behavior therapy, combined behavioral and dermatological program, autogenic training), but not with a dermatological educational program. All treatments reduced scores on the scale catastrophi/ing. Catastrophizing scores at the posttreatment assessment predicted severity of the skin lesions and illness-related and itching-related distress at the I-year follow-up. © 1993 S. Karger AG, Basel.

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Journal article



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112 - 119