Incidence of systemic lupus erythematosus. Race and gender differences

Arthritis Rheum. 1995 Sep;38(9):1260-70. doi: 10.1002/art.1780380914.


Objective: To examine racial differences in the incidence of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Methods: A population-based registry of SLE patients in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, was used to identify incident cases of SLE diagnosed between January 1, 1985 and December 31, 1990, from 3 sources, by medical record review (University of Pittsburgh Lupus Databank, rheumatologists, and hospitals). Capture-recapture methods using log-linear models were used to estimate the level of case-finding and to calculate 95% confidence intervals (CI). Incidence rates were calculated per 100,000 population.

Results: A total of 191 definite and 78 probable incident cases of SLE were identified, and the overall annual incidence rates were 2.4 (95% CI 2.1-2.8) and 1.0 (95% CI 0.8-1.3), respectively. The crude incidence rates of definite SLE were 0.4 for white males, 3.5 for white females, 0.7 for African-American males, and 9.2 for African-American females. The annual incidence rates of definite SLE remained fairly constant over the study interval. African-American females with definite SLE had a younger mean age at diagnosis compared with white females (P < 0.05). Since the overall ascertainment rate was high (85%; 95% CI 78-92%), the ascertainment-corrected incidence rate for definite SLE, 2.8 (95% CI 2.6-3.2), was similar to the crude rate.

Conclusion: Our rates clearly confirm previous reports of an excess incidence of SLE among females compared with males and among African-Americans compared with whites. We have used capture-recapture methods to improve the accuracy of SLE incidence rates, and we advocate their use to facilitate comparisons across studies.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Americans*
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Pennsylvania / epidemiology
  • Registries
  • Sex Distribution
  • Whites*