Objectives: To assess the association of gender with clinical expression, health-related quality of life (HRQoL), disability, and self-reported symptoms of depression and anxiety in patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc).
Methods: SSc patients fulfilling the American College of Rheumatology and/or the Leroy and Medsger criteria were assessed for clinical symptoms, disability, HRQoL, self-reported symptoms of depression and anxiety by specific measurement scales.
Results: Overall, 381 SSc patients (62 males) were included. Mean age and disease duration at the time of evaluation were 55.9 (13.3) and 9.5 (7.8) years, respectively. One-hundred-and-forty-nine (40.4%) patients had diffuse cutaneous SSc (dcSSc). On bivariate analysis, differences were observed between males and females for clinical symptoms and self-reported symptoms of depression and anxiety, however without reaching statistical significance. Indeed, a trend was found for higher body mass index (BMI) (25.0 [4.1] vs 23.0 [4.5], p = 0.013), more frequent dcSSc, echocardiography systolic pulmonary artery pressure >35 mmHg and interstitial lung disease in males than females (54.8% vs 37.2%, p = 0.010; 24.2% vs 10.5%, p = 0.003; and 54.8% vs 41.2%, p = 0.048, respectively), whereas calcinosis and self-reported anxiety symptoms tended to be more frequent in females than males (36.0% vs 21.4%, p = 0.036, and 62.3% vs 43.5%, p = 0.006, respectively). On multivariate analysis, BMI, echocardiography PAP>35 mmHg, and anxiety were the variables most closely associated with gender.
Conclusions: In SSc patients, male gender tends to be associated with diffuse disease and female gender with calcinosis and self-reported symptoms of anxiety. Disease-associated disability and HRQoL were similar in both groups.