Background While alopecia has been shown to have substantial psychological consequences, previous studies have not explicitly explored the key beliefs of patients with primary cicatricial alopecia (PCA) and the relationship between clinical and psychological measures. Objectives To identify the key psychological factors and quality of life (QoL) of patients with PCA and the relationship between these factors and established clinical measures. Methods In total 105 patients with PCA were recruited from a specialist hair research clinic in Manchester, U.K. Patients completed the revised Illness Perception Questionnaire, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) and Dermatology Life Quality Index. These psychological measures were correlated with disease activity in patients with lichen planopilaris (LPP) and frontal fibrosing alopecia, using the LPP Activity Index (LPPAI). Results Patients perceived PCA as a chronic condition with significant personal consequences and emotional impact, and reported that they had low levels of control over the condition and its treatment. Considerable levels of psychological distress were observed (mean HADS total score 11·3 ± 8·1). Impaired QoL was associated with strong beliefs that the symptoms were attributed to their disease (P < 0·001), and that alopecia had serious consequences (P < 0·001) and was distressing (P < 0·001). Disease activity (LPPAI) showed a significant positive correlation with HADS-Depression (r = 0·343, P = 0·026). Conclusions Patients with PCA experience significant psychological distress and impaired QoL, both of which are associated with key beliefs about illness. Management of PCA should involve assessment of the beliefs and emotions that drive patients' psychological distress, as well as giving access to psychological therapy.
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