Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 19–26 | Cite as

Psychosocial acceptance of cleft patients: has something changed?

  • Niels Christian Pausch
  • Karsten Winter
  • Dirk Halama
  • Christian Wirtz
  • Vedat Yildirim
  • Sirintawat Nattapong
Original Article



The main purpose of this study was to analyse the reactions of a panel (non-cleft adults) when observing cleft lip morphology. Although rehabilitation of cleft lip and palate is improving, there are still indications of social rejection of cleft patients by the people around them. Polarity profiles have been used since 1973 to measure social distance with regard to cleft patients. Because rehabilitation results and education of the society have improved in recent decades, we investigated whether social distance has been affected.


The setting of this study is the Department of Oral, Craniomaxillofacial, and Facial Plastic Surgery, University Hospital of Leipzig, Germany

Patients and participants

Using a cross-sectional study design, we enrolled a sample of adult laypersons (n = 273). For the survey, we followed the concept of photograph presentation and questionnaire investigation reported by Sergl and Schmid (1973). We presented anonymised frontal and profile pictures of the faces of 50 cleft patients and asked the laypersons to specify social distance. Three predictor variables (layperson gender, profession and year of evaluation) were grouped.


Although social distance has reduced during the last 40 years, life situations which require emotional proximity still cause some concern. Professional background and gender affect laypersons’ attitudes.


Although rehabilitation of cleft lip and palate is much better than 40 years ago, social distance remains a problem in society. It is necessary to improve both results of rehabilitation of cleft patients and social acceptance by the people around them.


Cleft lip patients Social distance Laypersons 



The authors would like to thank Professional School Schkeuditz, Bernd-Blindow-School Leipzig and Faculty of Dental Medicine, University of Leipzig, for their support of the project.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Niels Christian Pausch
    • 1
  • Karsten Winter
    • 2
  • Dirk Halama
    • 1
  • Christian Wirtz
    • 3
  • Vedat Yildirim
    • 1
  • Sirintawat Nattapong
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Oral, Craniomaxillofacial and Facial Plastic Surgery, Faculty of MedicineUniversity Hospital of LeipzigLeipzigGermany
  2. 2.Translational Centre for Regenerative Medicine (TRM)University of LeipzigLeipzigGermany
  3. 3.Karl-Olga-Hospital StuttgartStuttgartGermany

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