Disease activity scores indicated that for women with rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis or inflammatory bowel disease receiving the same level of treatment as men, the disease has a greater effect, according to a study.
Researchers studied 4,493 adult patients, using data from Swedish registries involving biologic treatment for rheumatoid arthritis (RA, 1,912) or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD, 131) and an annual report of the Swedish Psoriasis Register of 2,450 patients (26% treated with biologics). They compared the prescribed treatments and disease characteristics of men and women between 1999 and 2010.
In patients with RA, most treated were women (79%); men were the majority treated for psoriasis (60%) and IBD (69.5%). At the beginning of treatment, women had higher (worse) scores than men in subjective disease measurements (pain, functional status and quality of life) for psoriasis and RA. Men had higher (worse) scores in objective disease activity measures for psoriasis. Objective measurement scores were similar between men and women for RA. Patients with IBD demonstrated a similar trend to RA.
Researchers cautioned that there were limitations to the retrospective observational study, including that all data were collected at clinical visits and the psoriasis results came from an annual report and were not computed using raw data.
“These results support the hypothesis that the inherent biology of the diseases is similar for both genders, but that females experience their illness as worse, and consequently have a higher symptomatic burden,” the researchers said. “These findings suggest that in all three diseases, subjective measures are discounted to some extent in the therapeutic decision-making process, which could indicate undertreatment in female patients.”