Significant Immediate and Long-term Improvement in Quality of Life and Disease Coping in Patients with Vitiligo after Group Climatotherapy at the Dead Sea
Christian Krüger, Jim W. Smythe, Jennifer D. Spencer, Sybille Hasse, Angela Panske, Giorgia Chiuchiarelli, Karin U. Schallreuter
Quality of life in patients with vitiligo is impaired. This study explored the immediate effect of 20 days of climatotherapy at the Dead Sea on quality of life, coping with the disease, general well-being and individual stress levels in a group of 71 patients with vitiligo and 42 matched controls. The long-term effect was assessed after 12 months in 33/71 patients and 12/42 controls. Study instruments were Dermatology Life Quality Index, Beck Depression Inventory and the Adjustment to Chronic Skin Disorders Questionnaire. Stress measurements were based on cortisol and β-endorphin concentrations in saliva samples. Quality of life was significantly improved at day 20 at the Dead Sea compared with day 1, and this was still significant after 12 months. Moreover, social anxiety/avoidance, anxious-depressive mood and helplessness as measured by the Adjustment to Chronic Skin Disorders Questionnaire were significantly reduced. There was no difference in levels of cortisol and β-endorphin between patients and controls, indicating that stress per se is not a significant contributor in vitiligo. In conclusion, therapy in patient groups offers an effective tool for long-lasting improvement in quality of life and patients’ well-being.