, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 441-451,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 30 Dec 2011

The impact of herpes zoster and post-herpetic neuralgia on quality of life: patient-reported outcomes in six European countries



To investigate the impact of an entire episode of herpes zoster (HZ) or post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN) on an individual’s quality of life (QoL).

Subjects and methods

Individuals aged ≥50 years with painful HZ in the previous 5 years were identified across six European countries (Spain, Portugal, The Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden and Switzerland). They participated in a survey comprising bespoke questions to evaluate their previous HZ/PHN episode.


A total of 1,005 individuals participated, 874 (87%) having had HZ, and 13% having had PHN. Generally, pain and QoL outcomes were similar irrespective of when HZ was diagnosed (≤12 versus 13–60 months) and age (50–59 versus ≥60 years). Mean pain scores were significantly higher in those with PHN versus HZ both on average (7.2 versus 6.4) and at worst (8.3 versus 7.4). PHN had a significantly higher impact on patients’ perception of their overall QoL, with 37% reporting a high impact (HZ: 19%). Pain restrictions in the following QoL domains significantly impacted on the respondents’ perception of QoL: enjoyment of life (level of impact, 31%), general activity (29%), mood (25%), sleep (8%) and walking ability (8%), and were significantly higher in those with PHN than in those with HZ. Sleep was the area worst affected.


HZ, and particularly PHN, is associated with considerable levels of pain that have a significant impact on the QoL of participants across six European countries.