Healthcare and Research Priorities of Adolescents and Young Adults with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: A Mixed-methods Study

J Rheumatol. 2017 Apr;44(4):444-451. doi: 10.3899/jrheum.160720. Epub 2017 Mar 1.


Objective: Managing juvenile-onset systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is particularly challenging. The disease may be severe, adolescent patients have complex medical and psychosocial needs, and patients must navigate the transition to adult services. To inform patient-centered care, we aimed to identify the healthcare and research priorities of young patients with SLE and describe the reasons underpinning their priorities.

Methods: Face-to-face, semistructured interviews and focus groups were conducted with patients with SLE, aged from 14 to 26 years, from 5 centers in Australia. For each of the 5 allocation exercises, participants allocated 10 votes to (1) research topics; research questions on (2) medical management, (3) prevention and diagnosis, (4) lifestyle and psychosocial; and (5) healthcare specialties, and discussed the reasons for their choices. Descriptive statistics were calculated for votes and qualitative data were analyzed thematically.

Results: The 26 participants prioritized research that alleviated the psychological burden of SLE. They allocated their votes toward medical and mental health specialties in the management of SLE, while fewer votes were given to physiotherapy/occupational therapy and dietetics. The following 7 themes underpinned the participants' priorities: improving service shortfalls, strengthening well-being, ensuring cost efficiency, minimizing family/community burden, severity of comorbidity or complications, reducing lifestyle disruption, and fulfilling future goals.

Conclusion: Young patients with SLE value comprehensive care with greater coordination among specialties. They prioritized research focused on alleviating poor psychological outcomes. The healthcare and research agenda for patients with SLE should include everyone involved, to ensure that the agenda aligns with patient priorities, needs, and values.


Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Australia
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / diagnosis
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / psychology*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / therapy*
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality of Life
  • Research*
  • Young Adult