Background: The prevalence of spondyloarthritis (SpA) in Germany is approximately 1-1.4% and includes predominantly axial SpA (axSpA) and predominantly peripheral SpA. Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) belongs to the group of axial SpA but also exhibits peripheral manifestations. Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) can show purely peripheral or also axial manifestations. The total prevalence of SpA in Germany is approximately 1‑1.4%, the prevalence of AS is ca. 0.5% and PsA 0.2-1.4%. Patients with AS are mainly treated by internal medical rheumatologists but in many places also basically treated by general practitioners and orthopedists. Patients with PsA are mainly diagnosed and treated by rheumatologists and dermatologists working in private practice or in clinical settings. Besides the control of inflammatory activity and prevention or slowing down of the characteristic disease progression, including irreversible structural changes, the main objectives of patients as well as treating physicians are particularly freedom from pain and a quality of life comparable to non-affected persons. Decisive for successful treatment are an early diagnosis and initiation of adequate therapy as well as regular monitoring of disease activity including treatment adjustment taking the needs of the patient into consideration; however, it is unknown how often this is actually successful in routine daily practice in Germany.
Objective: The aim of the SpA Loop research project was to display the current medical care situation of patients with AS and PsA treated in private practices and hospitals for rheumatology in Germany focusing on patient/physician profiles as well as the diagnostics and treatment.
Material and methods: The instrument for the survey was a standardized questionnaire with 29 multiple choice and perception questions that was distributed to medical specialists in the field of internal medicine and rheumatology.
Results: A high accordance between rheumatologists in private practice and in hospitals was observed with respect to the presentation and perception of the current medical care situation for patients with AS and PsA in Germany. Differences were only occasionally found.
Conclusion: The results of this research project reflect the current status of the medical care situation of AS and PsA patients in Germany. They provide information on which areas of the medical care situation can selectively be improved as well as on interesting aspects and points of discussion with respect to the patient population treated.
Keywords: Diagnosis; Disease activity; Patient care; Rheumatology; Treatment adaptation.