Objective: To examine the frequency and reliability of depression, fatigue, and pain self-report measures in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and healthy controls, and to examine the relationship between a cognitive impairment index (CII) derived from the American College of Rheumatology neuropsychology research battery of tests for SLE (ACR-SLE battery) and measures of depression, pain, fatigue, and perceived cognitive dysfunction.
Methods: Thirty-one patients with SLE with a history of overt neuropsychiatric symptoms (neuropsychiatric SLE [NPSLE]), 22 patients with SLE without overt neuropsychiatric symptoms (non-NPSLE), and 25 healthy controls completed the following measures at baseline and 1-month followup: ACR-SLE battery, perceived cognitive difficulties, depression, fatigue, and pain.
Results: Patients with SLE (both NPSLE and non-NPSLE) showed higher symptoms of depression, higher levels of fatigue, greater pain, and more perceived cognitive problems. All measures except the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale (CES-D) demonstrated adequate reliability across the SLE groups at retest. Only patients with NPSLE had significant correlations between CII and depression, fatigue, and pain. Neither the non-NPSLE patients nor the controls had significant relationships with the CII and these behavioral measures.
Conclusion: Patients with SLE report higher levels of cognitive difficulties, depression, pain, and fatigue compared with controls. Reliability for all measures, except the CES-D, was established in the SLE group. Overall, results suggest that cognitive dysfunction, pain, fatigue, and depression in patients with NPSLE may represent global changes in the central nervous system that require ongoing evaluation and treatment.