Optimizing clinical care for patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) starts with understanding how disease activity affects health-related quality of life. Unless patients are able to report on their feelings and symptoms, clinicians are unable to determine how best to help their patients. Further, unless researchers determine how patients’ symptoms relate to disease activity, medications that treat the root cause of symptoms are unable to be developed.
Recognizing the challenge to associate self-reported measurements and disease variables, a group of researchers from universities in Sweden conducted a study of nearly 200 patients with SLE who underwent a health assessment questionnaire and laboratory analyses to determine self-reported activity limitations due to disease activity. “The purpose of the present study was to characterize variation in activity limitations among well-defined SLE patients, and to describe disease phenotypes, acquired organ damage and their relations to activity limitation and self-reported health, respectively,” wrote the researchers in their article, “Quality of Life and Acquired Organ Damage Are Intimately Related to Activity Limitations in Patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus,” which was published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders.
Patients in the study were separated into four different groups determined by clinical characteristics. Each person underwent a health assessment questionnaire, and the researchers tested the hypothesis that an elevated score was related to disease activity. Using logistic regression and multiple linear analyses, they were able to determine that the two were related.
Those patients who had an elevated health assessment questionnaire score were determined to have activity limitation. These limitations were found most commonly in the group of patients with skin and joint involvement. Further, patients with accrued organ damage, as determined by the Systemic Lupus International Collaborative Clinics/American College of Rheumatology damage index, were more likely to have a higher health assessment questionnaire score.
“The findings highlight the differing requirements of the multi-professional rehabilitation interventions for the various SLE phenotypes in order to optimize the clinical care of the patients,” wrote the researchers. No other studies had focused on a relationship between organ damage and self-reported variables in the context of SLE, making this study a valuable tool for clinicians with SLE patients.