Health-related quality of life in systemic lupus erythematosus and its association with disease and work disability

K Almehed, H Carlsten, H Forsblad-d'Elia
Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology 2010, 39 (1): 58-62

OBJECTIVES: To determine the health-related quality of life (HRQOL) and its relationship to disease variables, vertebral fractures, and employment status in female patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

METHODS: HRQOL was assessed with the Swedish version of the Medical Outcomes Study (MOS) 36-Item Short Form Survey (SF-36) in female patients (n=163) and in age- and sex-matched controls (n=1045). Associations between the SF-36 score and demographics, disease variables, prevalent vertebral fractures, and employment status were analysed.

RESULTS: The SLE patients, aged 20 to 82 years, scored significantly lower than the controls on all SF-36 subscales. Patients with vertebral fractures were older, had greater disease damage, and lower physical functioning (PF) than patients without fractures. Of the SLE patients of working age (n=142), 54% worked full or part time. These patients scored their HRQOL significantly higher (better) than patients not working. Being able to work was significantly associated with low age and high scores in PF and role physical (RP): the area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve for these variables was 0.82, confidence interval 0.75-0.89.

CONCLUSIONS: HRQOL is substantially lower in SLE than in the general population but working ability indicates better health. We encourage further research regarding the effects on HRQOL by preventive actions taken against work disability in SLE.

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