More Photos of Patients with Psoriasis Needed in Studies

More Photos of Patients with Psoriasis Needed in Studies image

Fully 77% of studies did not contain any patient images.

As the adage goes, "a picture is worth a thousand words," yet most researchers don't include photos of patients with psoriasis in scientific articles.

This is the main finding from a new study out of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden and the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

For the study, the researchers counted images of patients in 152 different randomized scientific studies focusing on treatment outcomes for biologic drugs in psoriasis, published over a period of twenty years (2001–2021). These studies encompassed a total of 62,871 patients. 

Most of the studies (77%) did not contain any patient images at all. In total, the scientific manuscripts, along with all available supplementary material, featured a total of only 203 images depicting 60 patients. This yields an image sharing rate of just under one per thousand of all the patients included in the studies. 

"Patients often find it challenging to grasp the core messages of scientific manuscripts. The clinical results are most often described in something called Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI) values, which is a composite score for redness, scaling, induration, and distribution on predefined body areas,” explains study author Sam Polesie, an Associate Professor at Sahlgrenska Academy – the University of Gothenburg's faculty of medicine –and a dermatologist at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, in a news release. “ If dermatology researchers were to include more clinical images in their manuscripts, this would improve patients’ understanding of the expected treatment effects.”

The researchers acknowledge that healthcare professionals, rather than patients, are principally the target audience for scientific publications.  "We hope that this systematic review can serve as an invitation to the pharmaceutical industry and other sponsors, as well as journal editors and authors, to include more images in scientific publications,” says Polesie. “Including more clinical images with our original manuscripts could better support patient involvement." 

The results are published in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment.

PHOTO CAPTION: Sam Polesie, Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg.

PHOTO CREDIT:  University of Gothenburg.

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