Diagnosis and initial management in psoriatic arthritis: a qualitative study with patients

Emma Dures, Clive Bowen, Mel Brooke, Jane Lord, William Tillett, Neil McHugh, Sarah Hewlett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (SciVal)


Objectives: PsA is an inflammatory condition that can cause pain, fatigue, swelling and joint stiffness. The consequences include impaired physical function, a high psychosocial burden, reduced quality of life and work disability. The presenting symptoms can be non-specific and varied, leading to delays in diagnosis or referral to specialist teams. The aim of this study was to explore patients' experiences of being diagnosed and the initial management of PsA. Methods: The study used a qualitative design, with data collected in one-to-one, face-to-face semi-structured interviews. Results: Fifteen newly diagnosed patients (<24 months) from three hospital sites in the southwest of England participated. Interviews were transcribed, anonymized and analysed using inductive thematic analysis. The following two main themes with sub-themes represent the data: symptom onset to specialist care: 'it was the blind leading the blind' (making sense of symptoms; mis-diagnosis and missed opportunities; and fast and easy access to expertise); and diagnosis as a turning point: 'having somebody say you've got something wrong with you, I was euphoric' (validation and reassurance; weighing up treatment options; taking on self-management; and acknowledging loss and change). Conclusion: Participants were already dealing with functional limitations and were highly distressed and anxious by the time they received their diagnosis. Physical and mental outcomes could be improved by the implementation of existing psoriasis management guidelines and strategies for earlier referral from primary care to rheumatology and by the development of guidelines on educational, self-management and psychological support provision soon after diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberrkz022
JournalRheumatology Advances in Practice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 26 Aug 2019


  • diagnosis
  • psoriatic arthritis
  • psychological distress
  • qualitative
  • rheumatology
  • self-management
  • specialist care
  • treatment decisions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology


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