Validation of the Cutaneous Lupus Disease Area and Severity Index (CLASI) using physician- and patient-assessed health outcome measures

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2013 Apr;68(4):618-623. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2012.08.035. Epub 2012 Oct 26.


Background: The Cutaneous Lupus Disease Area and Severity Index (CLASI) has not been validated using rheumatologist-conducted disease activity and damage assessments, especially cutaneous assessments. Active skin disease and skin damage may have substantial effects on patient-reported outcomes and on body image.

Objective: We sought to validate the CLASI against: (1) physician-assessed disease activity and damage measures; and (2) patient-reported assessment of quality of life and body image.

Methods: Cross-sectional data were collected from 31 patients with cutaneous lupus erythematosus. Cutaneous disease activity and damage were measured by using the CLASI. Disease activity (using the Safety of Estrogens in Lupus Erythematosus National Assessment-Systemic Lupus Erythematosus [SLE] Disease Activity Index [SLEDAI}), damage (Systemic Lupus International Collaboration Clinics-American College of Rheumatology Damage Index [SDI]), quality of life (LupusPRO), and body image (Body Image Quality of Life Inventory) were obtained. Descriptive statistics and Spearman correlations were ascertained.

Results: Mean (SD) age was 42.3 (12.8) years; 97% were women. The mean (SD) CLASI activity and damage scores were 10.5 (7.4) and 9.9 (9.5). Correlations noted were: total CLASI activity and SLEDAI-rash (r = 0.42, P = .02), CLASI-mucosal and SLEDAI-mucosal (r = 0.65, P = .001), CLASI-recent hair loss and SLEDAI-alopecia (r = 0.61, P = .001), and total CLASI activity and LupusPRO symptoms domain (r = -0.38, P = .04). Total CLASI-damage correlated with SDI-scarring/alopecia (r = 0.51, P = .004), SDI-extensive scarring/panniculum (r = 0.55, P = .003), and SDI-skin ulceration (r = 0.36, P = .05). CLASI scalp scarring correlated with SDI-skin scarring/alopecia (r = 0.94, P = .001). CLASI activity on the face and nose was associated with significant concerns on the Body Image Quality of Life Inventory.

Limitations: Limitations include small sample size.

Conclusion: CLASI activity and damage scores correlate with physician-assessed cutaneous activity and damage in cutaneous lupus erythematosus in patients with SLE. Cutaneous activity in visible areas may generate body image concerns.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Image*
  • Dermatology*
  • Diagnostic Self Evaluation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Cutaneous* / pathology
  • Male
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Severity of Illness Index*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*