New CDC paper reinforces psoriasis as a serious public health concern

Study indicates need for better national survey questions to describe the impact of psoriasis in the United States

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a paper reinforcing that psoriasis is a large public health concern deserving increased research and data collection.

The paper, released online in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, responds to recommendations from the CDC-sponsored group of experts who developed the first public health agenda for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, released in 2013. One of the agenda's top priorities was to compile detailed information about the prevalence, disparities and comorbidities, or associated health conditions, of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. With those goals in mind, researchers analyzed data from the general population to examine the burden and prevalence of psoriasis in the United States.

Its findings support previous data about the estimated number of Americans with psoriasis, their higher rates of depression and their lower quality of life. It also reinforces that psoriasis is significantly associated with obesity and smoking, suggesting another reason for public health professionals and clinicians to promote smoking cessation efforts among those with prevalent psoriasis.

"This study represents a first step in implementing a public health agenda that seeks to better define how psoriatic diseases affect the population as a whole," said Chad Helmick, M.D., epidemiologist in CDC's Arthritis Program. "Developing and using better survey questions for assessing psoriatic diseases may help to assess severity, quality of life, costs and other impacts mentioned in the Agenda."

There were some limits to the study, including:

  • Data on overall prevalence excludes children and adults over age 60
  • Existing surveys don't allow researchers to address the age of disease onset, response to or lack of treatment, and risk factors
  • Limited numbers made it impossible to assess some ethnic populations (e.g., Asian) that are known to have a higher prevalence of psoriasis

"The NPF commends the federal government for leading the development of the public health agenda," said Leah Howard, National Psoriasis Foundation director of advocacy and government relations. "We continue to seek funding so the CDC can collect data from a wide group of the general population to understand factors such as prevalence, differences in genetic and non-genetic causes, and the comorbidities associated with psoriatic diseases."

Each year, the federal government authorizes the use of specific funds, called appropriations, for various projects. To continue our efforts, the NPF seeks $1.2 million in federal funding for data collection at the National Center for Health Statistics in 2014 and early 2015.

About the National Psoriasis Foundation

Serving its community through more than 50 years of patient support, advocacy, research funding, and education, the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) is the world’s leading nonprofit fighting for individuals with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. The NPF mission is to drive efforts to cure psoriatic disease and dramatically improve the lives of more than 8 million Americans affected by this chronic immune-mediated disease. As part of that effort, NPF created its Patient Navigation Center to offer personalized assistance to everyone with psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis. To date, NPF has funded more than $21 million in research grants and fellowships that help drive discoveries that may lead to more and better treatments and ultimately a cure. Learn more at