Background: With expanding therapeutic possibilities for treatment of psoriatic arthritis (PsA) it will be increasingly important to determine residual disease and define when to adjust treatment. The rationale behind treatment decisions in current daily clinical practice and the relationship with residual disease activity has not been investigated. The aim of this study was to assess current clinical practice on defining residual disease and subsequent treatment decisions made in PsA patients.
Methods: This cross-sectional study scored disease activity and treatment decisions prospectively in 142 consecutive PsA patients visiting the outpatient clinic for routine follow up. Disease activity parameters were scored by patient and the treating rheumatologist; the rheumatologist additionally registered his opinion on the presence of remaining disease activity despite current treatment (further mentioned as remaining disease) and subsequent treatment decisions.
Results: Two thirds (90/142) of patients had remaining disease activity according to the treating rheumatologist. Almost half (46%) of these patients had moderate to high disease activity according to the clinical Disease Activity Index for Psoriatic Arthritis (cDAPSA). Residual disease activity was determined by joint disease and pain rather than by active psoriasis. Demographic and clinical features were similar between groups with or without residual disease. Among patients with remaining disease activity, 74% were treated with either a conventional synthetic disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (csDMARD) only or a first TNF-inhibiting biological agent, suggesting opportunities for treatment modification. However, treatment adjustment was initiated in only 21 (23%) of the 90 patients with residual disease. When comparing patients with remaining disease activity with and without treatment adjustment, we found no differences in objective disease activity measures, such as joint counts and patient scores. These data suggest that treatment is not adjusted in a large majority of patients with residual disease activity, although options for treatment changes are available.
Conclusions: Remaining disease activity is present in almost two thirds of patients with PsA when scored by the treating rheumatologist, but triggers treatment adjustment in only a minority. Further research to understand why disease activity does not lead to treatment adjustment is required to enable implementation of treatment strategies in clinical practice.
Keywords: Clinical practice; Psoriatic arthritis; Residual disease activity; Treatment decisions; Treatment strategies.