The importance of self-help in dermatology

Published on June 05, 2024

In May 2022, the Dermatology Clinic at the USZ was the first clinic in the USZ to be recognized as "self-help friendly" as part of a national project to promote health literacy. This certificate, which is sponsored by the federal government, has now been renewed.

Thomas Kündig, why is self-help so important in dermatology?

In my view, there are two main reasons for this: Firstly, many skin diseases are very common, e.g. allergies and eczema, but also various forms of skin cancer. Secondly, the patients themselves see the skin changes. The better informed they are, the more likely they are to react correctly and can contribute to the success of the treatment themselves.

How does a clinic get the label "self-help friendly"?

Various quality criteria must be met for this. In particular, regular cooperation with members of self-help groups must be demonstrated, e.g. by the hospital involving self-help groups in external information events and internal further training. In addition, patients and their relatives must be systematically informed about self-help services in the region.

What does the Dermatology Clinic at the USZ actually do?

We organize patient information events several times a year, e.g. on skin cancer, neurodermatitis, psoriasis, allergies or rarer diseases. We offer the relevant self-help groups the opportunity to help shape these. It's a win-win situation: the self-help groups advertise our events so that they are well attended. And vice versa, the self-help group can introduce itself, which is interesting for those patients who are not yet familiar with the offer.

How long has the clinic been involved in this area?

The clinic has been working with self-help organizations, such as the Melanoma Self-Help Group and Lymphoma Switzerland, for more than 20 years. In addition, senior physicians at the clinic are involved in various self-help organizations as members of the Board of Directors or the Executive Board. Board of Trustees, for example at aha! Allergy Center Switzerland and the Swiss Society for Psoriasis and Vitiligo (SPVG), and thus support them with their specialist expertise.

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