A new survey conducted by Opinion Health on behalf of Bio-Oil, among 1,000 people in the UK, has highlighted the psychological impact that living with scarring or stretch marks can have on many patients.1
The survey found that body image is a real concern for patients with scarring. Only a third (36.6%) of women described themselves as happy with their appearance and just under half (48.1%) stated that their scar has affected their body confidence.
What’s more, just under half of those surveyed (42%) reported their scars having an impact on their mental health, this included symptoms such as depression and anxiety. Psychological impact and feelings of low body confidence can be further aggravated by societal pressures; with many feeling that they are being judged by others because of their scars (9.3%).
Lack of patient engagement with healthcare professionals identified
Despite the clear significant impact scarring can have on patients, the survey goes on to demonstrate that consultations between patients and healthcare professionals (HCPs) on the topic of scarring are not reflective of the issue. It was revealed that over two thirds (67%) have never discussed scarring with a HCP, and almost half (46.7%) stated that they are unaware of how best to look after their scars.
For those who have never engaged with a HCP, this seemed to be as a result of a feeling that there is nothing that can be done to help them, something that over half (50.3%) of those who had not sought advice identified as being the reason. In addition, 8.1% said that they felt embarrassed to raise the topic with a HCP.
“It is concerning to see the low number of patients seeking advice for a condition that is clearly causing distress and for which healthcare professionals are best placed to offer support. The survey indicates a lack of understanding about how HCPs can help support both the physical and emotional impact of scarring and we must encourage more patients to engage with us. It can be as simple as a short conversation that takes place on the end of a consultation, so does not have to be time burdening. Quality advice at the beginning of a patient’s journey can actually ensure better outcomes for the patient in the long term so the initial time investment is worthwhile”, comments Justine Hextall, Consultant Dermatologist.
Despite this hesitation to seek advice just under half (42.2%) of those asked identified HCPs as best placed to give advice on scarring and stretchmarks. The survey demonstrates that many patients do value the input of HCPs in their journey towards accepting their scars.
- 36.5% of people would like to receive verbal advice from a HCP
- 22.7% of people would like to receive emotional support from a HCP
- A third (32.3%) would like to receive guidance on expectations of how their scar will change over tim
- Over a quarter (28.1%) would like their HCP to proactively offer advice on scarring.
These insights highlight the psychological impact that can felt by patients with scarring and reflect the value of HCP involvement in the healing process, both psychically and emotionally. To aid HCPs in consultation with patients Bio-Oil have developed a range of educational tools, including a training module which contributes to your Continued Professional Development (CPD) through the revalidation. To take the training visit www.bio-oilprofessional.co.uk/primary-care-training/
1.Survey conducted by Opinion Health on behalf of Bio-Oil in February 2016, n=1000 adult respondents in the UK with scars.