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Fatigue in systemic lupus: the role of disease activity and its correlates

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Azizoddin DR1,2, Gandhi N3, Weinberg S2, Sengupta M3, Nicassio PM4, Jolly M2. Lupus. 2018 Dec 22:961203318817826. doi: 10.1177/0961203318817826. [Epub ahead of print]

Abstract

Author information 1 1 Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine, Stanford Health Care, Redwood City, USA. 2 2 Division of Rheumatology, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, USA. 3 3 Division of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine, John H Stroger Hospital, Chicago, USA. 4 4 Cousins Center of Psychoneuroimmunology, University of California, Los Angeles, USA.

Abstract OBJECTIVES: Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune disease that leads to a variety of negative health outcomes resulting from inflammation in various organ systems. Although treatment continues to advance, fatigue remains one of the most salient, poorly understood and addressed patient complaints. Understanding the mechanisms of fatigue can help guide the development of interventions to improve health outcomes. The aim of this research was to evaluate the contribution of six variables (disease activity, insomnia, depression, stress, pain and physical health) to fatigue in SLE without concomitant fibromyalgia (FM).

METHODS: A total of 116 ethnically diverse, primarily female participants (91%) with SLE, receiving care at university medical centers, completed assessments of disease activity and quality of life outcomes (FACIT-FT, Insomnia Severity Index, Perceived Stress Scale (PSS-4), Pain Inventory, Depression-PHQ-9, and LupusPRO-physical function). All patients met the American College of Rheumatology classification criteria for SLE and did not have a known diagnosis of FM. Multivariate linear and stepwise regression analyses were conducted with fatigue (FACIT-FT) as the dependent variable, and the above six variables as independent variables.

RESULTS: Mean (SD) age was 39.80 (13.87) years; 50% were African American, 21% Caucasian, 13% Hispanic, 9% Asian and 8% other. Mean (SD) FACIT-FT was 20.09 (12.76). Collectively, these six variables explained 57% of the variance in fatigue. In the multivariate model, depression, stress and pain were significantly and independently associated with fatigue, but not disease activity, sleep or physical health. Stress had the largest effect on fatigue (β 0.77, 95% CI 0.17-1.38, p = 0.01), followed by depression (β 0.66, 95% CI 0.21-1.10, p = 0.005). On stepwise regression analysis, only stress, depression and pain were retained in the model, and collectively explained 56% of the variance in fatigue. All three remained independent correlates of fatigue, with the largest contribution being stress (β 0.84, 95% CI 0.27-1.42, p = 0.005), followed by depression (β 0.79, 95% CI 0.44-1.14, p < 0.001) with fatigue.

CONCLUSION: Stress, depression and pain are the largest independent contributors to fatigue among patients with SLE, without concurrent FM. Disease activity, sleep and physical health were not associated with fatigue. The evaluation of stress, depression and pain needs to be incorporated during assessments and clinical trials of individuals with SLE, especially within fatigue. This stress-depression-fatigue model requires further validation in longitudinal studies and clinical trials. Significance and innovation: • Disease activity, sleep, pain, stress, depression, and physical health have been reported individually to be associated with fatigue in lupus. This analysis evaluated the role of each and all of these six variables collectively in fatigue among patients with SLE without a known diagnosis of FM. • Disease activity, sleep and physical health were not significantly related to fatigue, but depression, stress and pain were. • The results emphasize the need to evaluate and treat fatigue in individuals with SLE utilizing a biopsychosocial approach, particularly in the realm of clinical trials. Behavioral medicine interventions are shown to be most effective for the treatment of depression, stress and pain.