This is a pilot study to evaluate the use of steroids and other medications in children diagnosed with SLE (cSLE). After having revolutionized the prognosis of lupus in the 1950s, steroids remain the mainstay of therapy of cSLE. Recent studies suggest that, despite their proven benefits, steroids contribute to the development of permanent disease damage in both adult and pediatric SLE patients. 10-year patient survival is only at 85%. Preliminary data support that there is a considerable degree of practice variation among pediatric rheumatologists treating cSLE and that these differences in treatment approach may have an impact on patient outcomes. There are no published guidelines of how to best treat cSLE, especially how to use steroids for its the treatment and when to introduce other steroid-sparing medications. GOALS: 1) To document treatment patterns of pediatric rheumatologists for patients with cSLE in order a) To identify key factor that prompt physicians to choose a certain steroid dose and document the factors that make physicians change a given dose of steroids; b) To identify the key variables that prompt physicians to introduce of immunosuppressive therapies for patients diagnosed with cSLE. 2) To measure quality of life and specific outcomes (damage, costs) associated with the treatment of children and adolescents diagnosed with cSLE. STUDY DESIGN: A cohort of consecutively sampled patients treated for cSLE (n=70) at 4 pediatric US and Canadian Rheumatology Centers (Chicago, Cincinnati, Minneapolis, Toronto) will be assessed in at least tri-monthly intervals over an 18-month period regarding their disease course (disease activity, number of flares, infection and hospitalization), treatments, and outcomes (damage, quality of life). Key determinants that prompt the physicians to use certain therapies will be recorded. Relevant retrospective patient information will be obtained by chart review. Patient quality of life and treatment costs will be measured. Correlation, regression, multivariable modeling including repeated measure analysis will be used to analyze the relationship of cSLE therapies to outcomes (damage, quality of life, costs) and to key determinants of treatment decisions in cSLE. SIGNIFICANCE: The proposed pilot study will provide information regarding physician treatment patterns, cost of cSLE and patient quality of life. Data will be collected to support that there are important differences in the approach to cSLE therapy that have a significant impact on patient outcomes. Results of the study will be used to generate hypotheses towards improved treatment approaches for cSLE. The proposed study constitutes a first step towards the development of evidence-based guidelines. Information on HRQL and costs of patients diagnosed with cSLE is required for future cost-effectiveness analyses of treatments for cSLE.
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