Objective: To assess the prevalence and underlying reasons for the development of chronic renal insufficiency (CRI) in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) seen over a 3-year period in our lupus clinic, in particular to determine the frequency and types of patient-dependent factors that were associated with nonadherence when it occurred.
Methods: We determined the frequency and types of patient-dependent factors that were associated with the development of CRI in patients with SLE. CRI was defined as a serum creatinine level > or = 200 mumol/l for at least 6 months.
Results: Of the 462 patients followed at the lupus clinic between 1995 and 1998, 17 patients developed CRI. Patient-related factors were deemed to be the major reason for the development of CRI in 5 of these. Three of the 5 patients were nonwhite, and the 2 patients who were white were new immigrants. All 5 patients were reluctant to take high-dose corticosteroids because of potential adverse effects. Financial problems contributed to nonadherence in 2 cases. Two patients refused to continue steroids and immunosuppressive therapy and chose to use "alternative" medications as their sole therapy. Of these 5 patients, 3 are now on long-term renal replacement therapy, 1 has died, and 1 patient continues to be followed with a serum creatinine level of 250 mumol/l.
Conclusion: There is a need for an educational program based on patients' cultural background in order to enhance patients' understanding of the aims, risks, and benefits of therapy in SLE.