The Humanistic Burden of Vitiligo: A Systematic Literature Review of Quality-of-Life Outcomes

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Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology


Despite historical mischaracterization as a cosmetic condition, patients with the autoimmune disorder vitiligo experience substantial quality-of-life (QoL) burden. This systematic literature review of peer-reviewed observational and interventional studies describes comprehensive evidence for humanistic burden in patients with vitiligo. PubMed, EMBASE, Scopus, and the Cochrane databases were searched through February 10, 2021, to qualitatively assess QoL in vitiligo. Two independent reviewers assessed articles for inclusion and extracted data for qualitative synthesis. A total of 130 included studies were published between 1996 and 2021. Geographic regions with the most studies were Europe (32.3%) and the Middle East (26.9%). Dermatology-specific instruments, including the Dermatology Life Quality Index (DLQI; 80 studies) and its variants for children (CDLQI; 10 studies) and families (FDLQI; 4 studies), as well as Skindex instruments (Skindex-29, 15 studies; Skindex-16, 4 studies), were most commonly used to measure humanistic burden. Vitiligo-specific instruments, including the Vitiligo-specific QoL (VitiQoL; 11 studies) instrument and 22-item Vitiligo Impact Scale (VIS-22; 4 studies), were administered in fewer studies. Among studies that reported total scores for the overall population, a majority revealed moderate or worse effects of vitiligo on patient QoL (DLQI, 35/54 studies; Skindex, 8/8 studies; VitiQoL, 6/6 studies; VIS-22, 3/3 studies). Vitiligo also had a significant impact on the QoL of families and caregivers; 4/4 studies reporting FDLQI scores indicated moderate or worse effects on QoL. In general, treatment significantly (P<0.05) improved QoL, but there were no trends for types or duration of treatment. Among studies that reported factors significantly (P≤0.05) associated with reduced QoL, female sex and visible lesions and/or lesions in sensitive areas were most common. In summary, vitiligo has clinically meaningful effects on the QoL of patients, highlighting that greater attention should be dedicated to QoL decrement awareness and improvement in patients with vitiligo.

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ePub ahead of print