It is a truth constantly acknowledged within the medical profession that the measurement of quality of life correlates with the measurement of consequences of chronic illness.
The development and interpretation of ‘Quality of Life’ research led by Andrew Finlay and a global base of contributors, has been one of the greatest contributions from dermatology to contemporary medical practice. This attention to an individual’s health status, to the consequences of intervention and measurement has grown and developed the understanding we now have of the term ‘Quality of Life’.
The concept began simplistically with a discussion on the use of the term ‘aversive’ which was creeping into the handicap literature after the polio and the thalidomide disasters, describing being unwelcome because of difficult wheel chair access, appearance or odour.
Warning Quality of life influences happiness. Happiness in the UK is at its highest level in the teenager and in the 7th and 8th decade and reduced in the 4th and 5th decade. Being out of work makes people unhappier and more anxious, this is even linked with carelessness which underlies being accident prone.
Action As has been shown in a study of vitiligo, two people with the same degree of disfigurement may have different quality of life scores because they have different degrees of anxiety and depression or they have different self esteem scores. Persons who are more anxious in their daily life and who have poor self esteem will perceive their disfigurement as more severe. This comes to a point when we consider how stigmatisation can affect ones life, and how the public can inadvertently affect another’s life through comment. We, as health professionals, must do more to understand our patients individual experiences and conditions in order to tailor their treatment and respond to their worries and difficulties. We must also engage with the public to share our knowledge and increase understanding and reduce stigma.