Racial disparities in the impact of chronic pruritus: A cross-sectional study on quality of life and resource utilization in United States veterans

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Chronic pruritus has a lifetime prevalence of up to 26% in the worldwide population. Research has shown that the incidence and quality of life (QoL) impact of chronic pruritus varies by race.


We sought to explore the effects of race on specific pruritus-related QoL factors and resource utilization.


We performed a cross-sectional, national telephone survey of 6000 US veterans randomly sampled from the Veterans Hospital Patient Database. We administered surveys to assess QoL impact and resource utilization of chronic pruritus.


Nonwhites overall reported higher levels of burning and scarring with their pruritus. African Americans had a significantly greater emotional impact and use of special soaps, lotions, and clothes. African Americans were also more likely to visit their primary care provider for pruritus (P = .03), yet had similar numbers of specialty care visits.


Because our sample was drawn from a veteran population, generalizability may be limited.


The data indicate a racial disparity in specific QoL impact and resource utilization from pruritus. These findings merit further exploration into explanations, such as access, communication, trust of the medical system, and biologic differences.

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