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The socioeconomic burden of SLE

Abstract

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic, relapsing–remitting, multisystemic autoimmune inflammatory disorder that predominantly affects women of childbearing age. Much has been written about the clinical course and long-term damage associated with SLE, as well as the reduced life expectancy of patients with this condition. In addition, studies have emphasized the socioeconomic and psychosocial impact of SLE, although the monetary cost of caring for patients with the disorder has only been evaluated in a modest number of studies and a restricted number of countries. SLE has a negative impact on quality of life and is associated with high health-care costs and significant productivity loss. Factors associated with increased cost of SLE include long disease duration, high disease activity and damage, poor physical and mental health, and high education and employment levels. Similarly, high disease activity and damage, poor physical health, certain disease manifestations, as well as poor family and social support are associated with poor health-related quality of life outcomes. SLE incurs a great burden on both the patient and society. Long-term prospective studies should be encouraged to monitor the costs and psychosocial impact of this condition, and to better understand the factors that are associated with poor outcomes.

Key Points

  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) has a significant negative impact on a patient's quality of life, and is associated with high health-care costs and loss of productivity

  • Increased disease activity and damage, poor physical health, and poor family and social support are associated with a reduced quality of life in patients with SLE

  • Patients with certain manifestations of SLE, such as disfiguring cutaneous disease, have a worse quality of life than patients without these manifestations

  • Health-care costs are higher in patients with a long disease duration, high SLE disease activity and damage, poor physical and mental health, and high education and employment level

  • Long-term prospective studies are needed to evaluate the costs of SLE and to assist policymakers in the future elaboration of health-care resource planning and allocation

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Correspondence to Chak Sing Lau.

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Terms used in evaluating the socioeconomic costs of SLE (DOC 31 kb)

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Lau, C., Mak, A. The socioeconomic burden of SLE. Nat Rev Rheumatol 5, 400–404 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1038/nrrheum.2009.106

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