Objective: Chronic vulval skin conditions are known to cause a significant reduction in the quality of life. Validated scales exist to measure the disease impact of general dermatologic conditions; however, none have been specifically derived to assess vulval disease. This study aimed to identify what symptoms and aspects of their lives are important for women with vulval skin conditions and to assess their usefulness in developing an assessment measure for monitoring disease activity and quality of life in women with vulval skin conditions.
Materials and Methods: Participants were female patients attending a specialist vulval dermatology clinic at a tertiary referral center. Ten patients with a variety vulval skin conditions were interviewed to gain their experiences of living with a vulval skin condition. Using qualitative semistructured interviews, patients were asked open-ended questions about aspects of their disease that have affected them. These included the following: daily activities and social activities, physical functions, sexual activities, mobility, relationships, and an understanding of their vulval condition. Data was recorded, transcribed, and then analyzed thematically with all aspects regarding quality of life and symptoms identified.
Results: Results are presented according to common themes identified, specifically physical symptoms, body image, the impact of the condition on sexual and physical function, issues affecting daily activities, and the journey traveled when accessing medical care.
Conclusions: This qualitative study adds to the evidence that chronic vulval conditions are distressing and cause significant morbidity. It highlights further the need to devise a validated questionnaire which can be used in clinical practice looking specifically at disease impact and quality of life. It can only enhance the clinical consultation and facilitate discussion which is disease and person specific.