Atopic dermatitis and stress: possible role of negative communication with significant others.
Ehlers A., Osen A., Wenninger K., Gieler U.
Clinical reports have related stressful social interactions to the course of atopic dermatitis (AD). Controlled behavioral observations of interaction patterns of AD patients and their significant others, however, were lacking. In two studies, adult AD patients and their mothers (N1 = 26) or partners (N2 = 67) engaged in a discussion of a mutual problem. Their verbal and nonverbal communication behavior was analyzed with a reliable standardized interactional coding system and compared to that of control dyads (N1 = 18, N2 = 28). Although AD patients and their significant others did not differ from controls in their self-reported satisfaction with the relationship, the behavioral observations showed less positive and more negative communication patterns compared to the control dyads. Negative interactions with significant others may prevent the solution of everyday problems and may add to the patients' stress level.