According to study results published in JAMA Dermatology, individuals with atopic dermatitis are at greater risk of experiencing suicidal ideation and suicide attempts than people without atopic dermatitis.

The investigators of this prospective study sought to evaluate the association between atopic dermatitis and suicidality by reviewing and synthesizing available literature.

A systematic search of relevant articles was conducted through PubMed, Embase, PsycINFO, and Cochrane databases, in which the investigators identified 15 observational studies that evaluated suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and completed suicide among patients with atopic dermatitis. The investigators performed a meta-analysis to measure the risk between atopic dermatitis and suicidality as a primary end point using pooled odds ratios (OR); the quality of the studies was further assessed as a primary outcome. A total of 4,770,767 participants were analyzed: 310,681 were diagnosed with atopic dermatitis or eczema, and 4,460,086 were used as controls.

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Pooling data from 11 of 14 relevant studies, patients with atopic dermatitis were 44% more likely to experience suicidal ideation (pooled OR 1.44; 95% CI, 1.25-1.65) compared with participants without atopic dermatitis. In 3 of 5 relevant studies, patients with atopic dermatitis were also 36% more likely to attempt suicide (pooled OR 1.36; 95% CI, 1.09-1.70) than the control group. The investigators found limited data on completed suicides among patients with atopic dermatitis, and the results from the only 2 relevant studies were inconsistent.

Limitations to the analysis were studies that included control groups of individuals with other medical conditions, potentially confounding results, and several studies that did not include controls or report control group values.

Based on the results, the investigators stressed that dermatologists be aware of this risk and screen for suicidality among their patients with atopic dermatitis.

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Sandhu JK, Wu KK, Bui TL, Armstrong AW. Association between atopic dermatitis and suicidality: a systemic review and meta-analysis [published online December 12, 2018]. JAMA Dermatol. doi: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2018.4566