BALLERUP, Denmark, 16 October 2017 – Latin American countries dominate the top of the first global happiness index of people living with psoriasis, announced here today by the editors of the first World Psoriasis Happiness Report1. The report, developed by the Happiness Research Institute, in partnership with the LEO Innovation Lab, an independent unit of LEO Pharma, provides an analysis of findings from online surveys completed by more than 120,000 people in 184 countries who live with psoriasis – a serious, chronic autoimmune disease.
Mexico, Colombia, Spain and Brazil are the happiest countries for people with psoriasis
In contrast to the annual UN World Happiness Reports, no northern European countries ranked among the world’s happiest countries for people living with psoriasis. When broken down by severity, both Mexico and Colombia rank among the top five happiest countries, regardless of whether respondents had mild, moderate or severe psoriasis.
"These data can be a key driver in broadening the global conversation about the impact of psoriasis beyond scientists and clinicians and will allow advocacy groups to facilitate a more compelling conversation with policy makers,” said Sophie Andersson, Executive Director of the International Federation of Psoriasis Associations (IFPA). “The countries that top the index have flourishing patient associations, so the rankings support our philosophy that support networks are an invaluable way to improve wellbeing among those living with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. We commend the researchers for applying happiness survey methodology to psoriasis, to draw attention to the real-life impact that a common chronic, serious disease can have on people’s lives on such a global scale.”
Links between national happiness gaps and lifestyle impact
The report also compared the national psoriasis happiness rankings to the 2017 UN Happiness country index to benchmark happiness gaps between those living with psoriasis and general populations.
Across all countries, the top three lifestyle factors most impacted by psoriasis were emotional life, physical functioning and sexual intimacy.1 Countries with higher happiness levels and lower happiness gaps, such as Italy and Greece, reported a lower impact on their emotional life, while countries with higher happiness gaps, such as Australia, the UK, Germany and Ireland, reported a higher impact on their sexual intimacy1.
“It was surprising to see that Norway and Denmark, which have recently been named as the world’s happiest countries in the two most recent annual UN World Happiness Reports, had the biggest happiness gaps among those living with psoriasis, compared to other countries in our research,” said Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute.
“There were similar, large gaps in other countries that have consistently scored high on the UN’s global happiness index, so it could indicate that the negative impact of chronic health conditions may be flying under the policy radar of otherwise healthy and happy societies and leaving people behind.”
Strong correlation between lack of information and empathy with happiness levels
Survey respondents reported they felt awareness and understanding of psoriasis among the public, their social networks and even doctors is low. The findings show that people with psoriasis who feel the most isolated also don’t believe their doctors fully understand the impact that psoriasis has on their emotional wellbeing. In contrast, respondents who scored high on happiness also reported a high level of confidence in their doctors.
Specific findings among all global survey respondents included:1
• Almost half – 49 percent – said they don’t think their doctors understand the impact that psoriasis has on their mental health.
• 42 percent said they don’t have confidence in the ability of their doctors to treat psoriasis.
• More than half – 55 percent – said they don’t think they have been informed about all the different treatment options for psoriasis.
• Almost half – 49 percent – don’t think their family understands what it means to live with psoriasis.
• More than half – 58 percent – don’t think their friends understand what it means to live with psoriasis.
• 74 percent said they don’t think there is sufficient public awareness about psoriasis.
• 40 percent feel like they are the only ones with psoriasis in the world.
“As World Psoriasis Day approaches on 29 October, we hope this report will inspire people who are living with psoriasis to articulate their barriers to happiness more openly to their family, friends and healthcare professionals so they can take better control of their condition,” said Dr. Sascha Gerdes, Psoriasis-Center, Department of Dermatology, University Medical Center, Schleswig-Holstein, Campus Kiel, Germany. “We also hope it will inspire anyone who knows others living with psoriasis to consider how to best support their emotional journey, even if it’s just by listening to them.”
Survey respondents were screened and categorized by severity level based on their self-reported severity declaration as well as their self-reported BSA (body surface area) measurement, which is used by healthcare professionals worldwide to diagnose psoriasis. Age group categories ranged from less than 20 years of age to more than 60 years, with the average age groups between 20 and 49 years.
Like other autoimmune diseases, psoriasis develops when the immune system becomes overactive.2 The psychosocial co-morbidities of psoriasis are at least as severe as those seen in people with other serious diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, kidney failure, cancer and liver diseases.3 Compared to people with other skin disorders, people with psoriasis are more likely to suffer from psychological problems that may trigger or worsen psoriasis symptoms.4 Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritic affect an estimated 125 million people worldwide.5
In 2014, Member States of the World Health Organization (WHO) recognized psoriasis as a serious noncommunicable disease (NCD) in a World Health Assembly resolution.6 The resolution highlighted that many people in the world suffer needlessly from psoriasis due to incorrect or delayed diagnosis, inadequate treatment options and insufficient access to care, and because of social stigmatization. Anyone can access the World Psoriasis Happiness Report on https://psoriasishappiness.report.
# ENDS #
NOTE TO EDITORS
Happiness Research Institute
The Happiness Research Institute is an independent think tank, based in Copenhagen, which focuses on life satisfaction, happiness and quality of life. Its mission is to inform decision makers of the causes and effects of human happiness, make subjective wellbeing part of the public policy debate and improve the quality of life for citizens across the world.
LEO Innovation Lab
LEO Innovation Lab is an innovation unit of LEO Pharma, established as part of a long-term strategic decision to focus on patient needs. The LEO Innovation Lab does not develop medical treatments, but instead focuses on the aspects of everyday life that can affect people living with chronic skin conditions. The unit functions separately from LEO Pharma and has offices in Copenhagen, London, Paris, San Francisco and Toronto.
The LEO Foundation
The LEO Foundation is an independent, private institution that assumed ownership of LEO Pharma in 1986. The foundation’s main aim is to ensure the long-term existence of the LEO Pharma group. LEO Pharma A/S is owned entirely by the LEO Foundation and has no external shareholders, so the company is accountable only to patients. All profits are reinvested into in R&D and the development of new innovative solutions.
- LEO Innovation Lab, The Happiness Research Institute (2017), World Psoriasis Happiness Report 2017.
- Lowes MA, Suarez-Farinas M, Kreuger JG. Immunology of psoriasis. Ann Rev Immunol. 2014; 32:227-35.
- Moeller AH, Ernstoft S, Vinding GR, Jernec BCE. A systematic literature review to compare quality of life in psoriasis with other chronic diseases using EQ-SD-derived utility values. Patient Relat Outcome Meas. 2015; 6:166-77.
- Ferreira BI, Abreu JL, Reis JP, Figueiredo AM. Psoriasis and associated psychiatric disorders: a systematic review on etiopathogenesis and clinical correlation. J. Clin Aesthet Dermatol 2016; 9:36-43.
- The International Federation of Psoriasis Associations. Available via https://ifpa-pso.com/about/. Accessed August 2017.
- WHO, Resolution WHA67.9. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2014. http://apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/WHA67/A67_R9-en.pdf. Accessed August 2017.