Psychosocial Stress and Coping in Alopecia Areata: A Questionnaire Survey and Qualitative Study Among 45 Patients
Franziska Matzer, Josef Wilhelm Egger, Daisy Kopera
The controversial role of psychosocial stress in alopecia areata has been discussed widely, but there has been little research into patients’ subjective stress experiences and coping. The aim of this study was to explore general and specific coping strategies in alopecia areata and to assess the role of psychosocial stress in the onset and course of alopecia areata from the patient’s viewpoint. Forty-five patients conducted measurements of general coping strategies and body image. Qualitative data analysis was performed referring to interviews of stress experiences before the onset of alopecia areata, stress-reactivity, subjective disease models, consequences of alopecia areata and illness-related coping strategies. Patients do not have dysfunctional coping strategies in general, but they benefit from advantageous strategies in terms of better alopecia areata-specific coping and course of disease after 6 months. Psychological interventions in alopecia areata should focus on training general and alopecia areata-specific coping competences and regulating negative emotionality and insecurity, particularly at the first onset of alopecia areata.