Lay population stigmatizes patients with alopecia
Patients with alopecia are often stigmatized due to their condition, with the stigma varying depending on the alopecia severity, according to a study.
“Patients with alopecia may experience impaired quality of life from perceived disease-related stigma,” Andrew Creadore, BS, of the department of dermatology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and Boston University School of Medicine, and colleagues wrote.
A cross-sectional study of U.S. adults, completed by online survey, asked respondents to react to computer-generated images of individuals with varying degrees of hair loss. Participants were asked questions regarding stereotypes, social distance and disease-related myths.
Of 2,017 people who accessed the survey, it was completed by 2,015. As alopecia severity increased in the photos, stigma in each category increased.
The photos of individuals with complete hair loss were seen to be sick (29.8%), not attractive (27.2%), contagious (9%), unintelligent (3.9%) and dirty (3.9%).
“These data findings confirm that hair loss can have negative associations with the way others perceive individuals with alopecia, which may affect their ability to connect with others,” the authors wrote.
In workplace scenario questions, 16.9% of respondents said they would not feel comfortable having physical contact with individuals with alopecia, while 6.2% said they would have difficulty hiring them for a job.
However, stigma was shown to be reduced in those who recognized alopecia as a medical condition.
“Stigmatizing attitudes of laypersons toward patients with alopecia exist across a multitude of social and professional scenarios,” the authors wrote. “Medical and complementary treatments such as wigs may be able to mitigate alopecia-associated stigma.”