Applying quantitative methods in the assessment of outcomes of pharmacotherapy of psoriasis

  • Darren M. Ashcroft

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Healthcare providers and policy makers are faced with an ever-increasing number of medical publications. Searching for relevant information and keeping up to date with new research findings remains a constant challenge. It has been widely acknowledged that narrative reviews of the literature are susceptible to several types of bias and a systematic approach may protect against these biases. The aim of this thesis was to apply quantitative methods in the assessment of outcomes of topical therapies for psoriasis. In particular, to systematically examine the comparative efficacy, tolerability and cost-effectiveness of topical calcipotriol in the treatment of mild-to-moderate psoriasis.
Over the years, a wide range of techniques have been used to evaluate the severity of psoriasis and the outcomes from treatment. This lack of standardisation complicates the direct comparison of results and ultimately the pooling of outcomes from different clinical trials. There is a clear requirement for more comprehensive tools for measuring drug efficacy and disease severity in psoriasis. Ideally, the outcome measures need to be simple, relevant, practical, and widely applicable, and the instruments should be reliable, valid and responsive.
The results of the meta-analysis reported herein show that calcipotriol is an
effective antipsoriatic agent. In the short-tenn, the pooled data found calcipotriol
to be more effective than calcitriol, tacalcitol, coal tar and short-contact dithranol.
Only potent corticosteroids appeared to have comparable efficacy, with less short-term side-effects. Potent corticosteroids also added to the antipsoriatic effect of calcipotriol, and appeared to suppress the occurrence of calcipotriol-induced irritation. There was insufficient evidence to support any large effects in favour of improvements in efficacy when calcipotriol is used in combination with systemic therapies in patients with severe psoriasis. However, there was a total absence of long-term morbidity data on the effectiveness of any of the interventions studied.
Decision analysis showed that, from the perspective of the NHS as payer, the
relatively small differences in efficacy between calcipotriol and short-contact
dithranol lead to large differences in the direct cost of treating patients with mildto-moderate plaque psoriasis. Further research is needed to examine the clinical and economic issues affecting patients under treatment for psoriasis in the UK. In particular, the maintenance value and cost/benefit ratio for the various treatment strategies, and the assessment of patient's preferences has not yet been adequately addressed for this chronic recurring disease.
Date of AwardDec 1999
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAlain Li Wan Po (Supervisor)


  • psoriasis
  • meta-analysis
  • outcome measure
  • quality of life
  • cost-effectiveness

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