Experiences of rosacea and its treatment: An interpretative phenomenological analysis

Author: S. A. Johnston, M. Krasuska, A. Millings, A.C. Lavda, A. R. Thompson

Date: Sep 2017

Relatively few people with rosacea receive specialist dermatology treatment or psychological support. Despite this, individuals with rosacea can experience social anxiety, depression and embarrassment, and decreased quality of life.

Whilst questionnaire based studies have been used to investigate the type of distress that people living with rosacea might experience, there are not any studies that have sought to gain an in-depth understanding of the experiences of living with this visible skin condition. Further measures of quality of life do not provide an insight into self-management and of seeking treatment, and in order to access such information qualitative methods are required. Therefore this study used face-to-face interviews to ascertain participants nuanced individual experience of life with rosacea.

A qualitative approach called interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) was used to guide the interviews and analysis. This approach to research focuses on individual accounts and has been extensively used to investigate illness experience. In this study nine participants took part in detailed semi-structured interviews.

Three superordinate themes were gleamed from these interviews; self-consciousness, which focused on the fear of others’ assigning blame to participants for having caused their own symptoms; avoidance, concealment, and hiding emotions, referring to the coping strategies participants employed in response to rosacea; and inconsistencies in treatment, which focused on the need for medical professionals to assess the psychosocial wellbeing of patients with rosacea.

The findings are consistent with qualitative findings from patients with other skin conditions that demonstrate that self-conscious emotions can be a significant part of the experience of life with a skin condition. Healthcare professionals need to take care to assess for the presence of such concerns in rosacea, and where unhelpful thoughts or beliefs are reported, patients may benefit from dermatology specific psychological support.

Access the full study here

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Last revised: 11 September 2017