Conference on psoriasis: “Under every skin is a story”

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On Thursday 5 October, under the title “The Story of my Skin,” a day-long conference on psoriasis took place in the main meeting room of the General Hospital of Catalonia, organised by UIC Barcelona's Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences and the Faculty of Communication Sciences.

Conference on psoriasis: “Under every skin is a story”

The event originated in a desire to inform, give visibility to and generate discussion about psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis through viewing five documentary films produced entirely by the university's students taking the Audiovisual Communication degree course. The discussion with specialists that followed was moderated by Xavier Granda, a journalist specialising in healthcare and Vice-President of the Spanish Association of Health Reporters (Spanish acronym ANIS); Dr Pilar Gual, from the Psychology team of UIC Barcelona; Dr Ramon Grimalt, dermatologist and UIC Barcelona professor and Celia Marín, President of the patients' association Psoriasis en Red (Psoriasis on the Web).

After the showing of the documentaries, a discussion began on new ways of viewing, understanding and thinking about the disease, how patients go about their daily lives and the social acceptation of the disease. Celia Marín underlined the theme of “Under every skin is a story", whereby those attending the session could put themselves in the place of the patients and empathise with each of the background stories about the disease.

Dr Gual highlighted “the importance of being able to explain what is happening to you” given that in some cases patients do not accept the condition and suffer rejection from some of their immediate social group. This was the case of the protagonist of one of the documentaries who attended the event accompanied by his family and who explained first-hand his own experience of psoriasis.

Dr Grimalt referred to the vast industry that has grown up behind the disease and how patients spend a lot of money trying products that are ineffective for them yet their desperation makes them irrational. He also commented that “regrettably, psoriasis patients only rarely receive multi-disciplinary support” when the disease affects areas of life beyond the purely dermatological.

The session was a result of the programme “MeetingDoc – Psoriasis”, an initiative of the FICAE (International Festival of Short Films), co-directed by Dr. Ricard Mamblona, a professor for the Audiovisual Communication degree course, and the patients' association Psoriasis en Red, with the support of the Art and Diseases Chair at the Polytechnic University of Valencia.

Having cinema as the guiding thread lent the activity an artistic and cultural feel yet the debate it generated converted it into an event with a much more social and healthcare dimension.