Standardized Treatment Plans Needed for Pediatric Rheumatic Diseases

Children with rheumatic diseases may experience treatment variability.

Pediatric rheumatic diseases is a group of conditions that includes juvenile forms of arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, and other rare conditions. In an article published by Arthritis & Rheumatology, experts highlighted a need for developing standardized treatments for patients with these diseases due to the high variability in current approaches.

With any condition, not all patients will respond to the same therapies. The authors noted that a lack of standardized guidance makes it difficult to determine which treatments are the most effective for pediatric patients.

Randomized placebo-controlled clinical trials are ideal for determining the optimal therapy for certain patients within a disease state; however, these studies are difficult to conduct in small patient populations.

The authors proposed that consensus treatment plans (CTPs) may be an effective alternative to randomized trials. These standardized strategies are created by a consensus of experts in an effort to reduce treatment variability and to compare different approaches, according to the article.

Currently, the Childhood Arthritis and Rheumatology Research Alliance is spearheading efforts to implement CTPs to standardize treatments for pediatric rheumatic diseases, according to the authors.

"Once a diagnosis is made, providers and patients and their families can choose together the CTP strategy that they believe will work the best for that disease," said author Sarah Ringold, MD, MD. "Information on how the patient is doing on that treatment is then collected at regular clinic visits through a registry. At the end of the proposed study duration, researchers can then compare how the patients do between the different CTPs."

There are ongoing clinical trials testing the use of CTPs in patients with juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Findings from the study are expected to outline the feasibility of CTPs and could also demonstrate which treatments are the most successful in certain patients, according to the article.

"The CTP approach will be even more powerful when coupled with biospecimen collection to facilitate translational research aimed at identifying biomarkers of response and non-response, paving the way towards personalized medicine," Dr Ringold concluded.