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A multicenter study on quality of life of the “greater patient” in congenital ichthyoses

Background: Autosomal recessive congenital ichthyoses (ARCI) are a genetically heterogeneous group of rare and chronic disorders characterized by generalized skin scaling and hyperkeratosis, erythroderma, and palmoplantar keratoderma. Additional features include ectropion, eclabium, ear deformities, foul-smell, joints contractures and walking problems, recurrent infections, as well as pruritus and pain. No curative therapy is available and disease care mainly relies on daily application of topical emollients and keratolytics to the whole-body surface. Altogether, disease signs and symptoms and treatment modalities have a major impact on quality of life of patients and their caregivers. However, very few studies have evaluated the family disease burden in ARCI. Methods: We have performed an Italian multicenter cross-sectional study to assess the secondary disease impact on family members of pediatric and adult patients with ARCI, using a validated dermatology-specific questionnaire, the family dermatology life quality index (FDLQI). Disease severity was assessed by the dermatologist in each center. Results: Seventy-eight out of 82 patients who were accompanied by at least one family member filled the FDLQI. Forty-eight (61.5%) patients were aged less than 18 years. The mean FDLQI score was 10.3 (median 10), and the most affected dimensions were (1) time needed for care, (2) extra-housework, and (3) household expenditure. Higher total FDLQI score significantly correlated with more severe disease score (P = 0.003). Features associated with greater family burden included recurrent infections (P = 0.004), foul-smell (P = 0.009), palmoplantar keratoderma (P = 0.041), but also presence of scales on the face (P = 0.039) and ear deformities (P = 0.016). Conclusions: Our findings highlight the major socio-economic and psychological burden imposed by ARCI on the QoL of family caregivers. In addition, they show that global evaluation of disease impact also on family members is an essential part of patient-reported outcomes. Finally, our data underline the need to develop specific measures for family support. 

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Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases
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