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Hand Eczema and Quality of Life: A Population-based Study

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Abstract and Introduction Abstract Background Hand eczema is a common disease in the population and is of interest from a public health perspective.

Health-related quality of life (HRQoL) is increasingly being measured in dermatology.

Objectives To investigate HRQoL in relation to hand eczema in the general population.

Methods In the Public Health Survey of Stockholm County Council 2006, a questionnaire was sent to 57 009 randomly selected individuals aged 18–84 years.

The response rate among persons of working age (18–64 years) was 58%.

The questionnaire included a validated question concerning hand eczema and a generic instrument for measurement of HRQoL, the EQ-5D.

Results The proportion of individuals reporting problems was significantly larger among those with than without hand eczema in all five dimensions of the EQ-5D.

Gender differences were found in some age subgroups.

The EQ-5D index was lower for individuals with hand eczema than for those without, and on the same level as for psoriasis and asthma.

Beta regression showed that the strongest confounding factors were low back pain, depression and hay fever/asthma.

Conclusions HRQoL was negatively affected in individuals with hand eczema irrespective of age.

With the EQ-5D instrument it is also possible to detect certain gender differences.

The EQ-5D index for hand eczema was of the same size as for psoriasis and asthma, all common diseases with an impact on public health.

It is of importance to acknowledge the influence of hand eczema on daily life, in order to give the patients good care.

Introduction The 1-year prevalence of hand eczema in the general population of Sweden is about 10%, both among adults and among young people.

The concept of hand eczema includes several diagnoses, where the most frequently occurring are irritant contact dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis.

However, individuals with hand eczema perceive the lesions on their hands in a similar way, regardless of origin.

Hand eczema may constitute a considerable problem for the individual: it may disturb sleep and hamper leisure activities[3] and, as an occupational skin disease, it may force the individual into sick leave and eventually result in a change of occupation.

In 1989, Kickbusch defined public health as: ‘…the science and art of promoting health.

It does so on the understanding that health is a process engaging social, mental, spiritual and physical well-being.

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