Psoriasis Occurs Less Frequently in African Americans
Than Caucasians According to New Penn Study
(Philadelphia, PA) -- Psoriasis is a genetic skin disease believed to
be triggered when signals sent by the immune system become faulty and
speed up the growth cycle in skin cells. The additional cells form raised
patches of thick, scaly, red plaques which may appear on hands, elbows,
lower back, feet, scalp, or genitals. The patches often cause moderate
to intense burning or itching and can have a serious impact on the quality
of the patient's physical and emotional life.
In order to better understand and address varying health needs, researchers
at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
launched a population-based study to measure the incidence and burden
of psoriasis among African Americans, compared with that of Caucasians.
The study was done in collaboration with the National Psoriasis Foundation
and is published in the January issue of the Journal of the American
Academy of Dermatology.
The population sample included over 27,000 U.S. residents, 18 years of
age or older, who were randomly selected and interviewed via telephone.
Joel M. Gelfand, MD, assistant professor of Dermatology,
noted that the study is the largest of its kind in the United States,
and the first to address the frequency of psoriasis in African Americans.
Results showed that African Americans are approximately 52% less likely
than Caucasians to have been given a diagnosis of psoriasis by a physician.
This chronic condition however, is common in both groups (1.3% in African
Americans compared to 2.5% in Caucasians.). The lower prevalence of the
condition in African Americans may be due to genetic or environmental
factors and remains an issue still to be investigated. Differences were
also found in the size of the area affected by psoriasis, which was generally
larger in African Americans.
Although not statistically significant, African Americans were found to
be less likely to get information about psoriasis online or from advocacy
organizations; as well as less likely to discuss the condition with family
members or friends who also have psoriasis. Both groups voiced similar
effects of the condition on their day-to-day lives, sought care from general
practitioners and dermatologists at the same rate, and showed similar
satisfaction levels with treatment. Women were also more likely than men
to have been diagnosed with the condition.
Other members of the research team are Penn colleagues in the Department
of Dermatology and the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics
David J. Margolis, MD, PhD and Joe Kist, MD; as well as Robert S. Stern,
MD, Harvard Medical School, Boston; Tamar Nijsten, MD, University Hospital,
Antwerp; Steven R. Feldman, MD, PhD, Wake Forest University School of
Medicine, Winston-Salem; John Thomas, MS, LaunchBox, LLC, Portland; and
Tara Rolstad, MBA, National Psoriasis Foundation, Portland.
This study was supported by grants from the Dermatology Foundation, the
National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal, and Skin Diseases, Amgen/Wyeth,
Biogenidec, and the American Skin Association.
PENN Medicine is a $2.7 billion enterprise dedicated
to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and
high-quality patient care. PENN Medicine consists of the University of
Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation’s
first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System
(created in 1993 as the nation’s first integrated academic health
Penn’s School of Medicine is ranked #3 in the nation for receipt
of NIH research funds; and ranked #4 in the nation in U.S. News &
World Report’s most recent ranking of top research-oriented medical
schools. Supporting 1,400 fulltime faculty and 700 students, the School
of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior education and training
of the next generation of physician-scientists and leaders of academic
Penn Health System is comprised of: its flagship hospital, the Hospital
of the University of Pennsylvania, consistently rated one of the nation’s
“Honor Roll” hospitals by U.S. News & World Report; Pennsylvania
Hospital, the nation's first hospital; Presbyterian Medical Center; a
faculty practice plan; a primary-care provider network; two multispecialty
satellite facilities; and home health care and hospice.