Lupus is a heterogeneous autoimmune disease that disproportionately affects women of color and has eluded effective therapies for decades. Recently, there has been a push to incorporate the patient’s voice into the research and development process so that new therapies for the disease can address not only disease activity but also the symptoms that are most important to those living with lupus. New tools for patient-reported outcomes are being developed and validated to support these efforts.
While fatigue and “brain fog” are often pointed to as symptoms that matter to patients, new research has investigated whether anxiety may also be prevalent amongst those with lupus. The new study, published in the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) Open Rheumatology journal, evaluated data from 139 patients with lupus. The average patient age was just over 40 years, and 56.1% of participants were black. Consistent with the real-world sex distribution of those with lupus, just over 90% of study participants were women.
Physicians found that anxiety symptoms tended to remain stable over time in those with lupus. Importantly, they did not find that increased disease severity was associated with greater levels of anxiety. However, the results showed that anxiety did vary based on race. Specifically, compared to their white counterparts, black patients had higher levels of anxiety.
As patient-reported outcome measures are optimized, we will collect more information that will help us understand what is most important to lupus patients and how certain treatments impact those factors. This knowledge will empower us also to develop tailored treatments to achieve desirable effects.
Lew D, Huang X, Kellahan SR, Xian H, Eisen S, Kim AHJ. Anxiety Symptoms Among Patients With Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Persist Over Time and Are Independent of SLE Disease Activity. ACR Open Rheumatology. Published online February 22, 2022. doi:10.1002/ACR2.11417