Objectives: The diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is often delayed, which affects various clinical outcomes. This study examined the real-world situation of patients with AS during diagnosis and treatment.
Methods: Data were obtained from 26 tertiary care hospitals in Korea using a self-report questionnaire. The questionnaire assessed symptoms, pain, extra-articular manifestations, the initial pattern of pain before diagnosis, factors leading to delayed referral to rheumatology, time until receiving an AS diagnosis, comorbid diseases, treatment status, and disease education needs.
Results: Between September and October 2019, 1012 patients with AS completed the survey. Of these, 75.8% were men and 51.8% were in their 30s or 40s. Median disease duration was 76 months. The median time to diagnosis with AS was 12 months. When pain occurred, the medical departments most frequently visited first were orthopedic (61.5%) and rheumatology (18.7%) departments. The likelihood of the first visit being to the orthopedic department and the frequency of biologics use increased with the disease duration. The rates of uveitis, depressed mood, and comorbid diseases were higher in the group with delayed diagnosis.
Conclusions: Physicians should be aware of subtypes of AS that take longer to diagnose and comorbid diseases in the real-world clinical setting.
Keywords: Korea; Real-world setting; ankylosing spondylitis; clinical outcome; comorbid disease; self-survey.