Patients' experiences of primary healthcare and dermatology provision for alopecia

Fabio Zucchelli*, Marije van Dalen, Nick Sharratt, Amy Johnson, Jen Chambers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademic

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Abstract

Background: 

Alopecia describes a group of dermatological conditions characterised by hair loss, which are either non-scarring or scarring in nature, and range from bald patches to complete body hair loss, to general thinning. In the UK, the General Practitioner (GP) is typically the first point of contact, and some patients are referred for specialist dermatology consultation. However, little is known about how individuals with alopecia in the UK experience the care provided by the National Health Service. 

Objectives

We aimed to understand patients' perceptions of primary healthcare and dermatology provision. Further, we aimed to investigate how care provision and patients' overall patient journey might be improved in the UK, and how these lessons may apply internationally. 

Methods:

An online mixed methods survey was distributed by Alopecia UK to UK-based individuals with alopecia. Open-ended text responses were analysed using qualitative content analysis. Quantitative data were analysed using descriptive analyses and dependent measures t-tests. 

Results: 

A total of 291 participants completed the survey. They reported neutral-to-partial dissatisfaction with their GP appointments, with greater satisfaction in their most recent compared to their first appointment. Participants highlighted positive experiences with GPs and dermatologists as well as areas for improvement. Participants also expressed a desire for a greater degree of support and understanding about the psychological impact of alopecia.

Conclusions: 

Results highlight the importance of being empathic and caring healthcare professionals for patients with alopecia, the need for training for GPs on alopecia, as well as a simplified and joined up pathway between primary and secondary healthcare.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere324
JournalSkin Health and Disease
Volume4
Issue number2
Early online date10 Dec 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Skin Health and Disease published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Association of Dermatologists.

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