Background: Observational studies, if conducted appropriately, play an important role in the decision-making process providing invaluable information on effectiveness, patient-reported outcomes and costs in a real-world environment. We conducted a systematic review of large-scale, prospective, cohort studies with the aim of (a) summarising design characteristics, the interventions or aspects of the disease studied and the outcomes measured and (b) investigating methodological quality.
Methods: We included prospective, cohort studies which included at least 100 adults with psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis. Studies were identified through searches in electronic databases (Pubmed, Medline, Cochrane library, Centre for Reviews and Dissemination). Information on study characteristics were extracted and tabulated and quality assessment, using a checklist of 18 questions, was conducted.
Results: Thirty five papers covering 16 cohorts met the inclusion criteria. There were ten treatment-related studies, only two of which provided a comparison between treatments, and six non-treatment studies which examined a number of characteristics of the disease including mortality, morbidity, cost of illness and health-related quality of life. All studies included a clinical outcome measure and 11 included patient-reported outcomes, however only two studies reported information on patient utilities and two on costs. The quality of the assessed studies varied widely. Studies did well on a number of quality assessment questions including having clear objectives, documenting selection criteria, providing a representative sample, defining interventions/characteristics under study, defining and using appropriate outcomes, describing results clearly and using appropriate statistical tests. The quality assessment criteria least adhered to involved questions regarding sample size calculations, describing potential selection bias, defining and adjusting for confounders and losses to follow-up, and defining and describing a comparison group.
Conclusion: The review highlights the need for well designed prospective observational studies on the effectiveness, patient-reported outcomes and economic impact of treatment regimes for patients with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis in a real-world environment.