Mithu Maheswaranathan, MD, Speaks About Low Health Literacy in SLE Patients


Lower health literacy has been found to be associated with worsened health outcomes for patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) who displayed limited health literacy were found to be a particularly vulnerable population with significantly disparate and worsened health outcomes. These outcomes include reduced patient activation, worse patient-centered care, specifically regarding physician/patient communication, worse self-efficacy, and higher lupus damage and disease activity compared to patients with adequate health literacy.

This new study, "Association of Limited Health Literacy with Clinical and Patient-Reported Outcomes in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: An Analysis from the Peer Approaches to Lupus Self-Management (PALS) Program" was just presented at the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) 2021 Convergence.

A team of investigators led by Mithu Maheswaranathan, MD, Division of Rheumatology and Immunology, Duke University School of Medicine, wanted to determine the association of limited health literacy with patient-reported and clinical outcomes in lupus. The study included 267 African American patients with lupus who were enrolled in the PALS randomized control trial study from 2019-2021.

"Previous work has demonstrated that limited health literacy is associated with worse health outcomes in lupus," Maheswaranathan said, "including worse patient-reported outcomes and higher disease activity, but the exact mechanism of how this occurs is not well understood."

Investigators concluded that these results suggest that limitations in health literacy may interfere with clinical care by contributing to higher disease activity and morbidity/damage.

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