Importance: Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) is a chronic autoinflammatory disease that is highly associated with affective disorders such as depression and anxiety. Recent studies have shown that patients with HS may also endorse high levels of internalized skin bias (ISB). This redirection of skin disease-related social stigma toward oneself may also play an important role in the associations between adverse psychopathology (eg, depression, anxiety) and health-related quality of life (HRQOL). Objectives: To evaluate the associations of ISB with other core outcomes in HS and to determine if ISB may mediate the associations between adverse psychopathological outcomes and impaired HRQOL. Design, Setting, and Participants: A cross-sectional study of adult patients with HS recruited from 1 academic medical center as well as through virtual social and recruitment networks. Eligible participants completed an online survey comprised of 4 survey instruments along with demographic and disease history information from April 1, 2021, to July 15, 2021. Main Outcomes and Measures: Measures included the Internalized Skin Bias Questionnaire (ISBQ), Burns Anxiety Inventory, the Beck Depression Inventory-II, the Hidradenitis Suppurativa Quality of Life (HiSQOL) instrument, along with demographic and disease history information. The primary outcome was HRQOL as measured by the HiSQOL. Data were analyzed in July through August 2021. Results: The survey was completed by 230 of 279 patients (82.4%; mean [SD] age, 39.2 [11.2] years; 209 [90.9%] identified as female, 203 [88.7%] as not Hispanic, 178 [77.7%] as White). Depression and anxiety were shown to be a substantial burden in this sample, with 56.5% of participants' scores qualifying for moderate or greater anxiety and 45.7% moderate or greater depression. The mean (SD) HRQOL scores were moderately high at 34.5 (16.7), indicating strong levels of impairment. There was a moderate correlation between ISBQ score and depression (r = 0.67); and fair correlations with HRQOL (r = 0.52) and anxiety (r = 0.56). Therefore, ISB appears to positively mediate the associations between depression and anxiety (estimated proportions of total effect that were mediated, 38.7% and 24.9%, respectively) and HRQOL. After controlling for age, disease severity, and disease duration, both ISB and anxiety were positive predictors of impaired HRQOL. Conclusions and Relevance: This cross-sectional study found that ISB was associated with adverse psychopathology and impaired HRQOL in patients with HS. Furthermore, ISB appears to mediate the associations of depression and anxiety with HRQOL. Future studies are needed to design interventions targeted at addressing adverse psychopathology associated with ISB and improving HRQOL and well-being for patients with HS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)432-438
Number of pages7
JournalJAMA Dermatology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Dermatology


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