Researchers at Cardiff University have created a first-of-its-kind app to measure quality of life for people with skin conditions.
The Dermatology Life Quality Index (DLQI) tool was developed more than 25 years ago as a 10-point questionnaire - and has since become the standard measurement for quality of life in dermatology.
Now, the paper-only tool has been transformed into an app to give patients and clinicians the easiest possible access to it.
The researchers say the app is an easy way for patients to understand the impact of their condition on their quality of life. Many skin conditions, such as psoriasis and eczema, can have a major detrimental impact on people’s daily lives. Charities offering support for people with skin conditions also welcomed the app version of the vital tool.
"We hope this free app will provide a clear and validated means for patients to communicate with their healthcare practitioner so they can get any help and support they might need," said Dr Ravinder Singh, from Cardiff University’s School of Medicine and project lead.
"The DLQI has been so well used by clinicians and patients worldwide, we felt it was really vital to create an easier route to access it. This has become more crucial than ever during the pandemic, as healthcare has largely moved online, with patients needing a digital means of tracking their progress and communicating with their healthcare practitioners.
"We hope the app will translate into a real impact on care and support for people with skin conditions."
The app is designed around the 10-point questionnaire; once it is completed the score is automatically displayed and the interpretation given based on a scoring system. The 10 most recent results are stored and displayed, making it easy to track progress. The data is kept confidential on the individual smartphone and is not available to anyone else.
Helen McAteer, chief executive of the Psoriasis Association, said: "At a time when many dermatology appointments (in both primary and secondary care) are being held via the telephone or video call it is essential that we do not lose sight of the impact that living with a skin disease has on a person’s life, and recognise this important area when considering treatment options.
"It is fantastic that the DLQI is now available in a trustworthy app as it is such an essential, well-recognised and respected tool for both patients and clinicians, enabling much richer consultations whether they are in-person, on the telephone or via video call."
The DLQI, which was developed in 1994 by Cardiff University PhD candidate Dr Gul Karim Khan and Professor Andrew Finlay, has been extensively validated and is now available in over 120 translations, as well as being used in treatment guidelines and national registries worldwide.
The app, named DLQI: The official app, is available on Apple/Android, is funded by Cardiff University. It is currently available only in the English language, but researchers hope that in future it will be translated into many more dialects.