Variation in pain related to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE): a 7-year follow-up study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We have previously shown that most patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) reported low degree of SLE-related pain. However, 24% of the patients reported high degree of SLE-related pain, more fatigue, anxiety and depression, and worse health-related quality of life (HRQoL). To explore SLE-related pain, the presence of long-standing widespread pain, and patient-reported outcomes (PROs) after 7 years. Sixty-four out of 84 patients participated in a 7-year follow-up of the original survey and completed the same questionnaires answered at inclusion: pain (VAS 100 mm), fatigue (MAF), HRQoL (SF-36), anxiety and depression (HADS), and, if appropriate, a pain-drawing. Differences between inclusion and follow-up (change) were calculated. The patients with a low degree of SLE-related pain at inclusion reported no changes at follow-up in pain and PROs except for worsening in physical function in SF-36, median change (IQR) 0 (− 10 to 5), p = 0.024. Half of the patients with high degree of pain at inclusion reported decreased pain at follow-up, median change (IQR) 45 (35 to 65), p = 0.021; fatigue, 8 (8 to 17), p = 0.018; anxiety, 4 (1 to 4), p = 0.035; and depression, 4 (2 to 5), p = 0.018 and improvements in most dimensions of SF-36. The remaining half of the patients reported no changes regarding pain and PROs except for a worsening in vitality in SF-36, 20 (15 to 35), p = 0.0018. All patients with remaining high level of pain indicated long-standing widespread pain. After 7 years, a subgroup of patients with SLE reported remaining high level of SLE-related pain and a high symptom burden, including long-standing widespread pain. Such patients require more observant attention to receive appropriate treatment.


  • Eva Waldheim
  • Sofia Ajeganova
  • Stefan Bergman
  • Johan Frostegård
  • Elisabet Welin
External organisations
  • Karolinska Institutet
  • Sahlgrenska Academy
  • Linköping University
  • Spenshult Research and Development Center
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Rheumatology and Autoimmunity


  • Anxiety, Depression, Fatigue, Health-related quality of life, Pain, SLE
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1825-1834
JournalClinical Rheumatology
Issue number7
Early online date2018 Apr 14
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jul
Publication categoryResearch