Information preferences about treatment options in diffuse cutaneous systemic sclerosis: A Delphi consensus study

Julia Spierings*, Hilde Nienhuis, Eva van Lieshout, Jacob M. van Laar, Arwen H. Pieterse

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Objectives: The aim of this study was to identify and prioritize aspects essential for decision making in patients with diffuse cutaneous systemic sclerosis (dcSSc) and to gain insight into information preferences of treatment options which could guide development of a leaflet for patients. Methods: A three-round Delphi study was conducted with a panel of patients with dcSSc. The questionnaire was based on a systematic literature search regarding benefits and harms of four main treatment options in dcSSc: methotrexate, mycophenolate mofetil, cyclophosphamide pulses and stem cell transplantation. Patients were asked to identify information that is essential for making a treatment decision. After the third round, a live, online discussion was held in order to reach consensus on these items and to discuss the content and design of the leaflet. Consensus was defined as ⩾75% agreement among panel members. Results: Of the 36 patients invited, 78% (n = 28) participated in one or more rounds, 67% (n = 24) completed the first, 69% (n = 25) the second and 75% (n = 27) the third round. In the last round, median age of participants was 51 years (interquartile range, 18) and median disease duration 4 years (interquartile range, 5); 52% were female. Patients had been treated with mycophenolate mofetil (67%), methotrexate (44%), cyclophosphamide (41%), autologous stem cell transplantation (26%), rituximab (4%) or were treatment-naïve (7%). Eight patients joined the live panel discussion. The panel reached consensus on seven benefits (prolonged progression-free survival, improved quality of life, improved daily functioning, improved pulmonary function, improved skin thickness, improved mobility and reduced fatigue) and four harms (treatment-related mortality, infections, cardiac damage, increased risk of cancer) as essential information for decision making. Also a design of a leaflet was made. Conclusion: This study identified information about treatment options in dcSSc that should be addressed with patients. Our results can be used to develop effective patient information.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-48
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Scleroderma and Related Disorders
Issue number1
Early online date8 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022


  • Delphi method
  • health communication
  • information provision
  • patient education
  • scleroderma
  • Systemic sclerosis


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