Study Examines Bereavement Stress as Factor in Psoriasis, Atopic Dermatitis

Acute stress was found to be a possible trigger following the loss of a partner, but not a factor in long-term risk for either disorder.

A study in the British Journal of Dermatology finds a modest link between the loss of a partner and that person developing psoriasis and atopic dermatitis in the 3 months afterward, offering some evidence that acute stress can be a trigger for these conditions.

Investigators from the London School of Hygiene of Tropical Medicine and the Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark collaborated on cohort studies using British and Danish health registries covering a 20-year period: the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink (1997-2017) and the Danish nationwide registries (1997-2016). They compared non-bereaved partners matched to bereaved partners by age, sex, and other factors. The study’s outcome was the first recorded diagnosis of psoriasis or atopic dermatitis.

The pooled adjusted hazard ratio (HR) for the association between bereavement and psoriasis were 1.01 (95% CI, 0.98-1.04) across the entire follow-up, with similar results in shorter follow-up periods. Pooled adjusted HRs for bereavement and atopic dermatitis were as follows:

  • 0.97 (95% CI, 0.84-1.12) across the entire follow-up
  • 1.09 (95% CI, 0.86-1.38) in the first 30 days
  • 1.18 (95% CI, 1.04-1.35) in the first 90 days
  • 1.14 (95% CI, 1.06-1.22) in the first year
  • 1.07 (95% CI, 1.02-1.12) in the first 3 years

“Acute stress may play a role in triggering onset of new atopic [dermatitis] or relapse of atopic [dermatitis] previously in remission,” the authors concluded. The authors found no evidence for increased risk of long-term psoriasis or atopic dermatitis following the loss of a partner.


Wong AYS, Froslev T, Forbes NJ, et al. Partner bereavement and risk of psoriasis and atopic eczema: cohort studies in the United Kingdom and Denmark [published November 28, 2019]. Br J Dermatol doi:10.1111/bjd.18740.