Objective: To identify coping strategies used by patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and to assess the influence of main clinical and coping variables on health-related quality of life (HRQOL).
Methods: We administered the Coping Orientation to Problems Experienced and the Short Form 36 questionnaire to a group of 144 patients with SLE and a group of 129 healthy controls. At the time of the psychological assessment, all patients underwent a complete clinical and laboratory evaluation.
Results: SLE patients had higher scores in acceptance (P < 0.001) and turning to religion (P = 0.05) and lower scores in planning (P = 0.001), suppression of competing activities (P = 0.010), restraint coping (P = 0.031), focusing on and venting of emotion (P = 0.009), and strategies focused on problem (P = 0.012) compared with controls. By means of linear regression analysis, HRQOL in SLE patients seemed to be influenced positively by restraint coping and positive reinterpretation and growth, and negatively by focusing on and venting of emotion, behavioral disengagement, and mental disengagement. When clinical variables were added to the multivariate analysis for coping strategies, more significant regression models that included joint pain were obtained.
Conclusion: In facing stressful situations, patients with SLE tend to use coping skills that are generally adopted for events perceived as nonmodifiable. Strategies that show a passive attitude and joint pain seem to impair these patients' HRQOL.