New directions in individual difference research in dermatological care: putting the patient’s needs first

  • A. Thompson
  • J. Schmidt
  • R. Thorneloe
  • K. Montgomery


Aims: This symposium will show how the study of individual differences in relation to skin disease can inform patient care. It aims to emphasise the importance of psychological researchers working in collaboration with patient groups. Rationale: Psychological research with skin conditions has received little attention. The symposium provides an opportunity to hear about innovative research. Summary: The first two papers investigate psychological and behavioural variables relevant to many dermatological conditions. In the first paper Thompson et al. report on a mixed methods study examining psychosocial distress reported by people with alopecia and associations between this and wig use. The findings suggest that participants valued using wigs, however the relationship between wig use and social confidence is complex. In the second paper Schmidt et al. report on a survey which enabled analysis of the indirect effects of appearance concern and skin picking behaviour on group differences in depression, anxiety, and well-being, using mediation modeling. The findings suggest that concerns about appearance and skin picking can contribute substantially to distress. The third paper takes a different focus, and moves the symposia onto examining how differences in patients’ beliefs might influence adherence to medication for psoriasis. Thorneloe et al. study provides some guidance as to identifying the factors that warrant further investigation in addressing patients concerns about treatment. The final oral presentation shares the promising results of a group mindfulness based cognitive therapy intervention. Alopecia UK has created a film enactment of a ‘typical’ interaction between a patient and health care professional from the patient perspective. The brief film will conclude with a summary of patient views as to the future psychological research priorities. The final discussion will invite the audience to reflect upon how individual difference researchers can better work with patient groups to ensure that research results in advances in care.