Appearance concerns among women with neurofibromatosis: Examining sexual/bodily and social self-consciousness

Kelly B. Smith, Daphne L. Wang, Scott R. Plotkin, Elyse R. Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Objective Neurofibromatosis (NF) 1 and 2 have distinct appearance effects, yet little research has examined patients' appearance concerns. We assessed appearance concerns and self-consciousness, self-esteem, and loneliness among women with NF. Methods Women with NF1 (n = 79) and NF2 (n = 48) completed the Derriford Appearance Scale to assess appearance concerns and sexual/bodily and social self-consciousness, Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, and UCLA Loneliness Scale. Women's appearance concerns were coded to determine whether they were NF-related and whether psychosocial factors contributed to the concerns. Results A total of 85% of women reported appearance concerns, many of which were NF-related and attributed to psychosocial factors. Women with NF1 reported significantly more sexual/bodily self-consciousness but similar levels of social self-consciousness compared with women with NF2. Significantly higher sexual/bodily self-consciousness was found among married/cohabiting women regardless of NF group. Compared with general population norms and breast cancer survivors (BCS), women with NF1 reported significantly greater sexual/bodily and social self-consciousness. Women with NF2 reported less sexual/bodily self-consciousness compared with population norms, yet tended to report greater sexual/bodily self-consciousness than BCS. Women with NF2 reported significantly greater social self-consciousness compared with population norms and BCS. For both NF1 and NF2, higher levels of sexual/bodily and social self-consciousness were related to lower self-esteem and higher levels of social self-consciousness to more loneliness. Conclusions Appearance concerns are prevalent, and social self-consciousness is high, among women with NF1 and NF2. Women with NF1 compared with NF2 experience more sexual/bodily self-consciousness. Providers should assess the impact of NF on women's self-perceptions and address sexual, body image, and social concerns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2711-2719
Number of pages9
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2013


  • appearance concerns
  • breast cancer
  • loneliness
  • neurofibromatosis
  • oncology
  • self-esteem


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