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Update on lupus epidemiology: advancing health disparities research through the study of minority populations


Drenkard C1,2, Lim SS1,2. Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2019 Nov;31(6):689-696. doi: 10.1097/BOR.0000000000000646.

Author Information

1 Division of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine, Emory School of Medicine.

2 Department of Epidemiology, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.



The current review focuses on recent population-based studies that have examined the burden of lupus, disease outcomes, and gaps in quality of care, with an emphasis in research addressing health disparities.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Lupus Registries underscored higher susceptibility of both systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and primary cutaneous lupus among people of color, compared with whites. Not only does SLE disproportionately strike people from racial and ethnic minorities, those individuals are also at increased risk of developing severe manifestations following SLE diagnosis. Mortality is higher and death occurs at a younger age among blacks, compared with whites. Furthermore, ongoing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-supported population-based lupus cohorts, along with research by other groups, have provided new insight into the role of social determinants on outcomes and opportunities to improve care in diverse lupus populations.


While descriptive epidemiological efforts have been critical to providing more accurate estimates of the burden and mortality of lupus across diverse demographic groups, emerging research suggests a significant influence of psychosocial and healthcare system factors on disease outcomes. These current efforts represent important steps toward the development of clinical and public health interventions aimed at eliminating health disparities in lupus populations.