The agonizing itching suffered by neurodermatitis patients is a major treatment challenge for both patient and clinician. As well as several other influential factors, stress can also have a negative impact on the course of neurodermatitis. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) programmes can demonstrably reduce stress and the consequences of stress. Hence a study initiated by CK-CARE is addressing the question of whether practising mindfulness can have a positive effect on the disease course of neurodermatitis and the itching.
As part of a pilot study, in addition to state-of-the-art dermatological interventions, a classic MBSR programme and neurodermatitis training with elements of mindfulness-based stress reduction were carried out in neurodermatitis patients in the sense of a health-promoting measure. The aim was to study the feasibility (acceptance of the programme, dropout analysis, etc.) and to obtain initial evidence of the effectiveness of both programme components separately and in comparison with each other.
The pilot study was based on a classic pre-post comparison of two mindfulness-based programmes with n = 10 and n = 9 participants. In addition, data were recorded three months after the intervention in terms of a follow-up survey. As well as established measuring instruments in dermatology (SCORAD, DLQI, POEM), two established mindfulness questionnaires (MAAS and FMI) and two instruments for recording stress and strain (PSQ and HADS) were used. Furthermore, open and specific questions were employed in order to assess the benefit and effectiveness of the programmes.
Whereas no significant changes were seen in the dermatological and psychological measurements, the self-assessed attentiveness significantly increased in the first group. In the second group, on the other hand, an increase in inattentiveness was noted, which is a common observation following a systematic mindfulness-based programme. However, the acceptance and subjective rating of the programme as well as the participants’ satisfaction proved very positive.
Mindfulness-based interventions in the sense of health-promoting measures are useful and promising for the symptomatic treatment of itching in terms of generic stress and symptom reduction. The majority of the participants report that the programme helped them to deal better with the symptoms of the illness.