Study Explores Coping Strategies of Patients with Hidradenitis Suppurativa

A new qualitative study, published online in JAMA Dermatology, examined coping styles of patients diagnosed with hidradenitis suppurativa (HS), a chronic inflammatory skin disease that causes intensely sore nodules and abscesses that result in scars and dyspigmentation.

HS may have negative impacts on work and income, interpersonal relationships, self-worth, psychological health, and sexual dysfunction and distress, according to previously published studies. The study set out to determine the HS patients’ coping and resilience strategies.

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Patients with a diagnosis of HS were recruited in June 2015. Study exclusions included patients who were not fluent in English, did not have HS, or had HS for less than 6 months. Participants answered questions regarding what about their disease bothered them most and how they handled that issue, as well as how the condition affected their life and their relationships.

The researchers reviewed the transcripts from the recorded interviews and analyzed them using thematic analysis. Twenty-one patients participated, with 16 (76.2%) women and 5 (23.8%) men. Mean age was 46.8 years. Patients were of varied ethnicities. Mean disease duration was 20.5 years: Hurley stage 2 (12 [57.1%]) and stage 3 (9 [42.9%]).

The researchers reported that the majority of participants mentioned their own coping strategies, which included both physical and social strategies such as positive reframing and humor as positive coping mechanisms. Negative coping included behavioral disengagement and social isolation. Half of the participants explained that social support from family, friends, and others helped them deal with their disease better. 

—Lisa Samalonis

Kirby JS, Sisic M, Tan J. Exploring coping strategies for patients with hidradenitis suppurativa [published online June 15, 2016]. JAMA Dermatology. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2016.1942.