Objective The objective of this paper is to investigate health-related quality of life (HRQoL), fatigue, anxiety and depression in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and higher levels of pain and to compare them to patients with lower levels of pain and controls. Method Patients were dichotomized into two groups based on SLE-related pain score on the visual analog scale (VAS): low-pain group (76%, n=64, VAS 0-39 mm) and high-pain group (24%, n=20, VAS 40-100 mm). Sex- and age-matched controls were randomly selected from the general population. Participants were asked to complete questionnaires regarding self-reported pain, HRQoL, fatigue, anxiety and depression. Medical assessments also were recorded. Result Fatigue score in the high-pain group (median, 36.5; interquartile range (IQR), 32.5-39.7) was significantly higher (p<0.001) compared to the low-pain group (median, 23; IQR, 14.6-34.1), as well as scores for anxiety (median, 9; IQR, 6.5-11.5) and depression (median, 7.5; IQR, 5.5-9) (p<0.001). The high-pain group had significantly lower scores compared to the low-pain group in all dimensions in the SF-36 (p ≤ 0.001-0.007). No statistical differences were detected between the low-pain group and controls in any measurement except for the dimensions physical function, general health, vitality and social function in SF-36. Conclusion Patients with SLE scoring higher degrees of pain were burdened with more fatigue, anxiety and depression and lower levels of HRQoL compared to patients with lower levels of pain who did not differ significantly from the general population in most dimensions. These results elucidate the importance of identifying patients with higher degrees of pain who are probably in need of more extensive multidimensional interventions to decrease symptom burden.
Keywords: Systemic lupus erythematosus; anxiety; depression; fatigue; health-related quality of life; pain.