Aims: The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) on the lives of patients in order to inform the development of a conceptual model.
Methods: Twenty-two participants with SLE (defined as meeting four of the 11 ACR criteria) were recruited for this study. Semi-structured, in-person interviews were conducted with each participant, exploring the symptoms experienced and the impact on the patient's life. Thematic analysis of interview transcripts was conducted in ATLAS.ti software to identify areas of impact and explore the interrelationships between concepts to inform the development of a conceptual model.
Results: Almost all participants were female (95%); the sample was diverse in terms of age (mean age of 45.5 years; age range of 20-60 years), ethnicity (59% black/African American) and disease duration. Commonly reported symptoms were pain, fatigue/tiredness and skin problems. Qualitative analysis revealed seven themes relating to the impact of SLE symptoms on patient's Health Related Quality of Life (HRQL): emotions, social, family and leisure activities, daily activities, cognition, appearance, employment activities and independence. The interrelationships between symptoms, impacts and symptom triggers are illustrated in a conceptual model.
Conclusions: The conceptual model illustrates the wide-reaching impact of SLE symptoms on a patient's HRQL, and the potential broad impact of a treatment that improves SLE symptoms.