From the Journals

Psoriasis patients with mental illness report lower satisfaction with physicians



Psoriasis patients with symptoms of psychological distress and depression reported lower satisfaction with their clinicians than did those without mental health comorbidities, according to a retrospective analysis of survey data.

Dr. April Armstrong, MD, MPH Professor of dermatology; director, psoriasis program, department of dermatology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles

Dr. April Armstrong

The findings highlight the importance of clinicians being supportive and adaptable in their communication style when interacting with psoriasis patients with mental illness.

“This study aims to evaluate whether an association exists between a patient’s psychological state and the perception of patient-clinician encounters,” wrote Charlotte Read, MBBS, of Imperial College London, and April W. Armstrong, MD, MPH, of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, in JAMA Dermatology.

The researchers retrospectively analyzed longitudinal data from over 8.8 million U.S. adults (unweighted, 652) with psoriasis who participated in the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey from 2004 to 2017. The nationally representative database includes various clinical information, such as data on patient demographics, health care use, and mental health comorbidities.

The primary outcome, patient satisfaction with their physician, was assessed using a patient-physician communication composite score. Mental health comorbidities were evaluated using standard questionnaires.

The mean age of study patients was 52.1 years (range, 0.7 years), and most were female (54%). In all, 73% of participants had no or mild psychological distress symptoms, and 27% had moderate or severe symptoms.

After analysis, the researchers found that patients with moderate psychological distress symptoms were 2.8 times more likely to report lower satisfaction with their physician than were those with no or mild symptoms (adjusted odds ratio, 2.8; P = .001). They also reported that patients with severe symptoms were more likely to report lower satisfaction (aOR, 2.3; P = .03).

“Patients with moderate or severe depression symptoms were less satisfied with their clinicians, compared with those with no or mild depression symptoms,” they further explained.

Based on the results, the coinvestigators emphasized the importance of bettering the patient experience for those with mental illness given the potential association with improved health outcomes.

“Because depressed patients can be more sensitive to negative communication, the clinician needs to be more conscious about using a positive and supportive communication style,” they recommended.

The authors acknowledged the inadequacy of evaluating clinician performance using patient satisfaction alone. As a result, the findings may not be generalizable to all clinical settings.

The study was funded by the National Psoriasis Foundation. Dr. Armstrong reported financial affiliations with several pharmaceutical companies.

SOURCE: Read C, Armstrong AW. JAMA Dermatol. 2020 May 6. doi: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2020.1054.

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