A national survey in the U.S. has revealed that although patients with psoriasis have numerous treatment options, they report difficulty finding treatment plans that work. In addition, respondents reported a heavy emotional toll, with many feeling isolated and stigmatized due to the condition.
The organization Health Union conducted the survey, Psoriasis in America 2016, which received 582 responses. Of the respondents, 67% were currently diagnosed with plaque psoriasis and 50% with psoriatic arthritis. Survey participants reported never knowing when or how often flares would occur, or their severity. Sixty-four per cent reported flares at least once per month and half experience them daily. Thirty-seven per cent said their flares lasted more than three months. The most common triggers reported were stress/anxiety (82%), weather (58%), and infection (22%).
Respondents reported trying a variety of treatment options, but also reported frustration in finding a course that works. Only one in three said they were satisfied with their current treatment plan. Forty per cent previously used phototherapy/light therapy, but only 4% currently do. The use of corticosteroids also dropped, with 49% previously using vs. current usage of 31%. Topical treatments (prescription or over-the-counter) show an increase with 36% previously using and 57% currently doing so. The newer biologic medicines are currently used by 26% of respondents.
Howard Chang, PlaquePsoriasis.com community advocate, noted in a press release that “finding the right treatment can be difficult for multiple reasons. With psoriasis, conditions can change and treatments can prove ineffective over time or simply stop working. Expense can be an issue, especially if insurance coverage changes or is lost. Many treatments are very inconvenient or come with challenging side effects.”
Psoriasis takes a heavy emotional toll on top of the physical symptoms. Fifty-eight per cent of respondents wished they would have known the impact psoriasis would have on their mental and physical health when they were first diagnosed. They wished others understood the effects psoriasis can have on their lives, with nearly half feeling they are treated differently because of their condition.
86% feel embarrassed by their psoriasis;
81% said that psoriasis impacts their emotional well-being or they have been depressed; and
66% feel isolated or alone due to their psoriasis.
“The social, relational, and psychological aspects of plaque psoriasis cannot be overstated,” said Chang. “People often don’t understand the stigma of having a visible condition like psoriasis. In addition, there is the unpredictable nature of the condition. When you don’t have the stability that can take quite a toll.”
“Our hope is that some of the new medical advances will help more people with psoriasis find an effective course of treatment, and in turn ease the feelings of stigma and isolation many feel. Health Union’s PlaquePsoriasis.com looks to be a bridge, bringing together critical information with an accepting community and tools for overall health maintenance,” said Tim Armand, president and co-founder of Health Union.