Closing the Gap in Doctor-Patient Communication

Amar Majjhoo, MD, discusses what the US findings from the Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA) Narrative Global Patient Survey mean for clinicians and how they can be used to improve interactions with patients.


Preliminary US findings from the Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA) Global Patient Narrative Survey,1 sponsored by Pfizer, showed that 98% of responders with PsA still experience symptoms despite treatment. 

“This is a very interesting finding and is kind of a hard pill for physicians to swallow,” said Amar Majjhoo, MD, a rheumatologist at Shores Rheumatology in Michigan, president of the Michigan Rheumatism Society. 

Dr Majjhoo is a member of the PsA Narrative Global Advisory Commitee, a global initiative created by Pfizer to engage the PsA community to help identify how people living with PsA are impacted by the disease. The US patient survey findings represent a subset of the PsA Narrative global survey, which was developed with input from the PsA Narrative Global Advisory Committee. The PsA Narrative Global Advisory Committee is comprised of individuals living with PsA, dermatologists, rheumatologists, and patient organizations from 8 countries who contributed to the design of the survey.  

“We want our patients to be doing the best that they can, and it is disappointing to find out they are not and even more disappointing to find out they are not reporting these symptoms,” he said.

Findings from the survey shed light on some of the communication issues between patients and physicians, according to Dr Majjhoo. This could be a starting point for determining what can be done to better serve these patients.

The PsA Narrative Survey

The online survey was conducted between November and December 2017 by The Harris Poll with input from the PsA Narrative Global Advisory Committee. 

The survey was completed by 301 adults who reported they received a diagnosis of PsA by a health care provider, had disease duration for more than a year, had seen a rheumatologist or dermatologist within the past 12 months, and were prescribed a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug or biologic. The data were not weighted and are only representative of those who completed the survey. 

The Findings

Overall, 98% of survey participants experienced musculoskeletal symptoms in the past 12 months and 3 of 4 participants considered these symptoms to be the most bothersome. The most commonly reported symptoms were joint pain (86%), stiffness (75%), joint tenderness (70%), and joint swelling (70%). 

In addition, 277 of 301 participants reported that PsA negatively impacted their emotional and mental well-being. Three of 4 participants reported that PsA negatively affected their career path and 3 of 4 participants said that PsA negatively impacted their relationships with family and friends. Cessation of sports and recreational activities was reported by 58% of participants and 51% reported no longer participating in social activities. 

Despite participants reporting continued symptoms and reduced quality of life, 83% reported that they were very or somewhat satisfied with their regimen and 87% reported that their PsA was under control on their current medication regimen. Of participants who were satisfied with their regimen, 96% reported still experiencing PsA symptoms despite treatment, 89% still described their PsA as moderate to severe, and 90% of responders said they would like to have changes to their regimen made.

Among participants who reported that a rheumatologist was responsible for managing their PsA symptoms, 93% reported they were somewhat or very satisfied with their communication with their rheumatologist and 93% reported they felt comfortable raising fears and concerns (Figure 1).

PSA figure 1

Figure 1. The infographic highlights the prevalence of joint stiffness in patients receiving treatment for psoriatic arthritis.

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