Treating chronic spontaneous urticaria
using a brief ‘whole person’ treatment approach:
a proof-of-concept study
Background: Chronic spontaneous urticaria (CSU) poses problems with respect to high prevalence, reduced quality of life, lack of long term efficacy, and expense of current treatments for severe intractable symptoms. There have been many reports suggesting ‘stress’ factors may be implicated, but there are no studies that explore the efficacy of treatments including a psychological perspective. A whole person treatment approach (WPTA), which addresses psychological factors has been used, with effect, for 6 years in the Auckland City Hospital Immunology Department. Findings: In a pilot study to demonstrate feasibility of recruitment and treatment of CSU patients in a time-limited, whole person treatment approach, within a conventional immunology department, four patients (three CSU and one idiopathic angioedema) were recruited into a brief WPTA course based in non-dualistic concepts of mind and body connectedness, and utilising psychotherapy-derived listening skills for up to 10 h long sessions, once per week. Treatment efficacy rating, using Urticaria Activity Score and the Urticaria Severity Score, and reduction of drug usage, showed patients experienced long term resolution of urticaria and cessation of hospitalisation for angioedema and came off regular antihistamine medication. Conclusions: A clinician treating chronic spontaneous urticaria in an Immunology department, using a whole person treatment paradigm, can safely explore unique meanings and emotional states, in a process acceptable to patients, resulting in a significant clinical benefit for symptoms. A much larger study comparing the outcome of WPTA versus standard treatment alone is warranted.