“When there are substantial changes in the field, that triggers a process of revising guidelines, or the components of guidelines that require revision,” explains Dr. Caplan. “For example, the axial spondyloarthritis guidelines were published in 2015, and they are already undergoing revision because there have been major changes.”
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There is inevitably a lag time between when new data become available and when the guidelines can reflect those important changes. But that is partly why the guidelines are just that—guidelines—to be used in conjunction with physician expertise.
In terms of the ACR, the process of guideline development is ongoing. New guidelines for psoriatic arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis and reproductive health should be available in 2018, as well as an update for axial spondyloarthritis. Updated osteoarthritis guidelines are expected to be published in spring 2019, with RA and gout updates to follow in late 2019.
Ruth Jessen Hickman, MD, is a graduate of the Indiana University School of Medicine. She is a freelance medical and science writer living in Bloomington, Ind.
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