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PURPOSE: Facial palsy is a condition which can lead to significant changes in facial function and appearance. People with facial palsy often report psychosocial difficulties, including withdrawal from social activities, anxiety, negative body image, and low mood. This paper aimed to review all published research investigating the psychosocial impact of facial palsy on adults. METHODS: A systematic search of MEDLINE, CINAHL, EMBASE, PsycINFO, and AMED databases was performed. The quality of included studies was assessed, and data were extracted with regard to characteristics of participants; study methodology and design; outcome measures used; and psychosocial outcomes. RESULTS: Twenty-seven studies met inclusion criteria. A high proportion of people with facial palsy reported clinically significant levels of anxiety and depression, with greater difficulties typically reported by females, compared to males. Other difficulties consistently reported include low quality of life, poor social function, and high levels of appearance-related distress. Objective severity of facial palsy was consistently shown to not be associated with anxiety or depression, with psychological factors instead likely mediating the relationship between the severity of facial palsy and psychosocial well-being. CONCLUSIONS: Irrespective of objective symptom severity, facial palsy has the potential to have a significant impact on psychosocial well-being and quality of life. The various methodological limitations of the included studies are discussed, along with clinical implications, including the need for greater access to psychological screening and interventions for people with facial palsy.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Health Psychol

Publication Date



facial palsy, psychosocial well-being