The BSR-PsA: study protocol for the British Society for Rheumatology psoriatic arthritis register

Gareth T. Jones*, Gary J. Macfarlane, Karen Forrest Keenan, Paul McNamee, Aileen R. Neilson, Stefan Siebert, A. David Burden, Lesley Kay, Philip S. Helliwell

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract: Background: Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) presents a unique clinical challenge. Affecting joints, skin, nails, and other organs, it is associated with various comorbidities and has a significant impact on quality of life, social participation and working life. While biologic and other targeted synthetic disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (bDMARDs and tsDMARDs) have revolutionised therapy, questions remain about the long-term safety of these agents, and their effectiveness and cost-effectiveness in the real-world clinical setting. Methods/design: The British Society for Rheumatology Psoriatic Arthritis Register (BSR-PsA) is a prospective registry of patients with PsA, recruited from across Great Britain, who are (a) commencing a bDMARD/tsDMARD; or (b) naïve to all bDMARDs/tsDMARDs. Ethical approval was given by the NHS West of Scotland Research Ethics Committee 3 (reference: 18/WS/0126). Clinical data are extracted from participants’ medical records, including symptom onset and diagnosis, joint, skin and nail symptoms, dactylitis and enthesitis. Physical measurements (height, weight and 66/68 joint counts) and a detailed drug history are taken. Participants are also asked to complete questionnaires comprising instruments relating to general health and quality of life, axial disease, sleep and fatigue, impact of disease, functional status, mental health, other symptoms, and occupational status. The study duration is 5 years in the first instance, and all participants are followed up annually until the end of the study. Participants commencing a bDMARD/tsDMARD are also followed up three and six months after the start of therapy. Disease activity, including C-reactive protein, is assessed at each visit; and participants from some centres are invited to donate blood and urine samples for the creation of a biobank. Discussion: Complementing data from randomised trials, results from this study will contribute to the evidence base underpinning the clinical management of psoriatic arthritis. Various analyses will determine the effectiveness and safety of bDMARDs/tsDMARDs in the real-world, will examine the clinical and biological predictors of treatment response, and will provide real-world data on the cost-effectiveness of these therapies, as well as providing informative data important to patients such as quality of life and occupational outcomes. Trial registration: The full study protocol is registered on the Open Science Framework (
Original languageEnglish
Article number19
Number of pages9
JournalBMC Rheumatology
Issue number1
Early online date17 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2021

Bibliographical note

We acknowledge contribution of BSR-PsA study staff, under the supervision of KFK: Maureen Heddle, Barry Morris, Jonathan Lock and Jane Brady. We also acknowledge the support from the Centre for Healthcare Randomised Trials (CHaRT) at the University of Aberdeen, especially Mark Forrest and Brian Taylor, for database and IT support. We would like to thank Professor Iain McInnes from the University of Glasgow, and our International Advisory Committee (Professors Merete Hetland, Oliver Fitzgerald and Philip Mease), for their comments when developing the protocol and for advice in harmonising data collection with other international studies, and the staff at the British Society for Rheumatology, in particular Alan Roach, Ross Matthews, Chris Hiley and Debbie MacDonald.
Finally, we are indebted to the staff at all participating NHS trusts (details of which are available from and especially the NIHR Clinical Research Network research nurses for their assistance with participant recruitment and data collection.

The BSR-PsA is funded by the BSR as part of its rheumatology registers portfolio and, in turn, receives funding for this from pharmaceutical companies. At the time of publication, only Amgen (previously Celgene) have contributed to the funding of the BSR-PsA. Pharmaceutical companies providing funds to BSR do not participant in the conduct or oversight of the study. However, they do receive advance notice of publications on which they are able to comment. Companies contributing to the funding of the register can request anonymised data on clinically confirmed serious adverse events and some events of special interest (e.g. pregnancy) among participants prescribed the specific bDMARD or tsDMARD agents that they manufacture. Other than this information, they do not have access to any raw data. They may, however, request specific analyses to be performed, for which a pre-specific analysis plan is discussed, and additional funds are provided.


  • Study Protocol
  • Clinical rheumatology
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Targeted therapy
  • Biologics
  • Biosimilars
  • Registry
  • Real world evidence


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