Reframing health disparities in SLE: A critical reassessment of racial and ethnic differences in lupus disease outcomes.
Health disparities in the prevalence and outcomes of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) are well documented across racial and ethnic groups. Similar to other chronic diseases, differences in disease severity among individuals with SLE are likely influenced by both genetic predisposition and multiple social determinants of health. However, research in SLE that jointly examines the genetic and environmental contributions to the disease course is limited, resulting in an incomplete understanding of the biologic and social mechanisms that underly health disparities. While research on health disparities can reveal inequalities and inform resource allocation to improve outcomes, research that relies on racial and ethnic categories to describe diverse groups of people can pose challenges. Additionally, results from research comparing outcomes across socially constructed groups without considering other contributing factors can be misleading. We herein comprehensively examine existing literature on health disparities in SLE, including both clinical studies that examine the relationship between self-reported race and ethnicity and disease outcomes and studies that explore the relationships between genomics and lupus outcomes. Having surveyed this body of research, we propose a framework for research examining health disparities in SLE, including ways to mitigate bias in future studies.
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