Two considerations for patients with psoriasis and their clinicians: what defines mild, moderate, and severe psoriasis? What constitutes a clinically significant improvement when treating psoriasis?

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2000 Aug;43(2 Pt 1):281-5. doi: 10.1067/mjd.2000.106374.


The definitions of psoriasis severity and clinically significant improvement in psoriasis are used to classify treatments, obtain Food and Drug Administration approval, and determine product labeling and reimbursement. The Medical Advisory Board of the National Psoriasis Foundation has addressed these issues because of their importance in the clinical trials that are conducted to gain FDA approval of indications. Narrow indications, which are without a sound rational basis, will-in this era of constant oversight by third party payers-affect physicians' ability to manage patients with psoriasis. Body surface area (BSA) is usually used to define severity for clinical trials. It is not optimal for defining psoriasis severity because there are some patients with low BSA involvement who have very severe psoriasis and some patients with high BSA involvement who have mild psoriasis. We conclude that a quality of life (QOL) standard is better than BSA measurement for identifying patients with severe psoriasis. The second issue is what defines clinically significant improvement for patients with psoriasis. Setting an arbitrarily high criterion of clinical efficacy for new psoriasis treatments will likely limit the development and approval of useful treatments. To maximize the availability of useful psoriasis treatments, it is our thesis that psoriasis treatments should be approved when they have been shown to produce a statistically significant level of improvement in well-designed clinical trials.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Psoriasis / drug therapy*
  • Quality of Life
  • Remission Induction
  • Severity of Illness Index