Conclusions

Given that many skin diseases are chronic, many patients and their carers want to know as much as possible about the causes and prognosis of their skin disease, and of the costs and benefits of the many treatments available to them. In many circumstances, the psychological effects of skin disease have been trivialised by doctors, and the involvement of consumers in skin research to date has been minimal.

Yet there is a huge opportunity for health professionals to work more closely and in partnership with consumers, particularly in the field of skin disease. Consumers are often in the best position to guide clinicians and researchers on what matters most to them in terms of therapeutic benefit, and they can provide psychological support and useful written information to fellow patients in ways that doctors cannot. Consumers are also well placed to help prioritise relevant research in dermatology by framing the research questions that are most important to them, by helping researchers choose meaningful outcome measures, and by recruiting patients through their networks.

Consumer groups are also ideally placed to disseminate research findings, and many are increasingly funding their own research.

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