17 January 2024

With the development of our updated axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA) guideline well underway, we take some time to speak to members of the guideline working group (GWG) to find out more.

Steven Zhao, Academic Clinical Lecturer in rheumatology and Co-Chair of the GWG, explained:

“With new classes of biologic and targeted synthetic DMARDs, and new treatment strategies such as drug tapering, the guideline will update the rheumatology community with the latest evidence for the management of axSpA, offering practical recommendations to support clinicians in their consultations.”

Joe Eddison, expert by experience in the GWG, said:

“Maintaining a high quality of life and being able to do the things we love are of huge importance to people living with axSpA. Acting as one of the expert patients in the GWG has allowed me to ensure, through my lived experience, that the recommendations are developed with a focus on people living with axSpA and I am confident that the new guideline will lead to improved long-term outcomes for the many people suffering from this complex and painful condition. I am also pleased that non-pharmacological therapies such as physiotherapy and supported self-management, are part of the holistic approach to treatment within the update”.

The GWG is made up of 18 multi-professional team members and three experts by experience. Members include representatives across rheumatology, dermatology, gastroenterology, epidemiology, and ophthalmology, as well as a GP, a specialist nurse a specialist pharmacist, and a physiotherapist.

Danielle van der Windt, Professor of Primary Care Epidemiology at Keele University who has led the literature review for the update, said:

“We have been delighted to support the evidence review for this guideline update and ensure the BSR’s rigorous methodologies are adhered to. We are nearing the end of data extraction now and will be joining the GWG for their final meeting in March 2024.”

The guideline update will answer questions on:

the clinical effectiveness and safety of 

  • targeted therapies on axSpA symptoms
  • switching to another therapy for those who do not respond adequately

the evidence for a treat-to-target strategy compared with usual care;

the management of those who have achieved remission, concerning:

  • tapering or dose reduction of targeted therapies;
  • withdrawing targeted therapies;
  • switching to biosimilars.

For more details on what the guideline will cover, read the full scope here. The full guideline will be published towards the end of 2024.

All BSR guidelines are published in Rheumatology under an ‘open access’ licence and available for free on the British Society for Rheumatology website.

Read the full guideline scope