Pruritus, pain can equally impact life

June 22, 2011

A new study suggests that people with chronic pruritus have just as poor a quality of life as those who live with chronic pain, Medical News Today reports.

Atlanta - A new study suggests that people with chronic pruritus have just as poor a quality of life as those who live with chronic pain, Medical News Today reports.

Researchers from Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, recruited 138 patients with chronic pain and 73 patients with chronic pruritus. Participants completed questionnaires and were interviewed to evaluate the effect their conditions had on their quality of life (QoL). The measures generated utility scores that chart the burden of the condition on a scale of 0 (death) to 1 (perfect health). The utility score represented how much of their life expectancy participants would be willing to forgo to live without pain or pruritus.

The results show that while patients with pain were more likely to describe their symptom as severe (36 percent versus 28 percent with pruritus), participants with pruritus still registered a mean utility score of 0.87, as compared with the pain participants’ score of 0.77.

The authors say the findings suggest chronic pruritus is taxing and detrimental to QoL, prompting patients to hypothetically trade 13 percent of their life expectancy to live without the symptom. They noted further research of the effect of pruritus on QoL is needed.

Although pruritus shares similarities with pain, the researchers wrote, “research relating to this symptom has not been as well established as in other chronic conditions such as pain. ... Our study provides a model to compare common debilitating symptoms that are best self-reported and have very few objective findings."