Alexithymia in patients with alopecia areata: educational background much more important than traumatic events.

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Background Recent studies suggest a higher prevalence of alexithymia in patients with alopecia areata (AA). Some authors link alexithymia with the presence of early traumatic events, such as dysfunctional parent-child relationships. However, until today, no studies have been carried out on the association of alexithymia and early traumatic events in AA patients. Objective The primary aim of this study was to explore if an association exists between the presence of traumatic childhood experiences and alexithymia in AA patients. A secondary aim was to confirm earlier observations indicating that the occurrence and/or degree of alexithymia is higher in patients with AA compared with individuals from the general population. Methods We enrolled 90 patients with AA. Data on alexithymia and traumatic events were collected with two self-report questionnaires: the Toronto Alexithymia Scale-20 and the Traumatic Experiences Checklist. These data were compared with data obtained from control patients without AA randomly selected from patients presenting for dermatological surgery. Results In adult AA patients, we found no evidence for a significant association between Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS) scores and emotional neglect or childhood traumatic experiences. We found a significant association with educational level, higher levels of education being associated with lower TAS-20 scores (P = 0.002). The mean TAS-20 score of 51.22 (SD 11.90) in our adult AA patient group was significantly higher compared with control patients from the same setting (44.00, SD 10.33, P <0.001). Conclusion In adult AA patients, higher levels of education are significantly associated with lower alexithymia scores. Somewhat unexpectedly, we found no association between alexithymia score and emotional neglect or childhood traumatic experiences. Our results also confirm that alexithymia scores are significantly higher in adult patient with AA compared with control patients. Conflicts of interest None declared.
Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)1141–1146
TijdschriftJ Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol
Volume23
Nummer van het tijdschrift10
StatusPublished - 2009

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