Luna Azulay-Abulafia, PhD
A Patient’s Perspective on the Dermatologist-Patient Relationship
Moderate to severe plaque psoriasis is a disease that affects many different types of people from all walks of life. Because of these differences, the journey each person takes on the path to treatment and the ways in which each deals with this disease on a daily basis are unique. Psoriasis is a lifelong condition, and so it is important that each patient’s goals, both for treatment and for life, are taken into account when developing their treatment plan. Good communication between the patient and dermatologist is the key to understanding these goals, and also to ensure that the patient receives the necessary disease education.
Shirley, a 60 year old native of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, was diagnosed with psoriasis 13 years ago. She is now the President of the psoriasis patient association in Rio de Janeiro – PSORIERJ, and has an excellent relationship with her dermatologist, Dr. Luna Azulay. At first, however, Shirley struggled with her condition.
“At the beginning, I started to see little bumps and bubbles on my leg. Then, after a surgery I had that year, the bumps spread all over my abdomen, arms and legs. The doctor who diagnosed me told me it was a chronic disease that wouldn’t go away. I didn’t know anything about psoriasis then and I was in despair.”
Many aspects of Shirley’s life have been affected due to her condition. “Before I developed psoriasis I weighed 60 kilos. Now I weigh 84 kilos. The way I look, being overweight, and the way I have to dress, has prevented me from getting work. It is hot here in Brazil, but I have to wear long sleeves to hide my psoriasis, and I cannot go to the beach because I feel self-conscious.”
However, Shirley’s psoriasis and health-related quality of life improved after she started treatment with Dr. Azulay. “I felt like all the doctors were making false promises until I met Dr. Azulay. She encouraged me to join the patient association to learn more about my disease. She taught me that this is the type of disease that you have to manage every day, and that because there is the potential for other diseases, you have to be screened for them. Now I am the President of the association, and I am happy giving help to other people with psoriasis. The attention and dedication of a good doctor was the most important thing for me during my treatment. I believe in her.”