Socioeconomic consequences of systemic lupus erythematosus

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Purpose of review

The present review addresses recent literature investigating the socioeconomic consequences of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). We highlight the latest updates on health disparities affecting the SLE population, the direct and indirect economic costs of the disease, and less quantifiable costs such as reduced health-related quality of life (HRQoL).

Recent findings

Health disparities continue to exist among socially disadvantaged populations, including African Americans, Hispanics, and patients with decreased educational attainment and in poverty. Direct and indirect costs are substantial. Recent work provides updated cost estimates for patients with SLE outside of North America, including those in developing countries. Previous research has largely focused on costs of the general SLE population and those with renal manifestations or active SLE, whereas recent research addresses special populations such as hospitalized and pregnant patients and glucocorticoid users. Patients with SLE and their caregivers experience a substantially reduced HRQoL.


SLE is a costly disease that disproportionately affects disadvantaged populations. Future economic studies should measure not only direct costs, but also incorporate indirect costs and the HRQoL of both patients with SLE and their caregivers. All these components are essential to provide a comprehensive assessment of the socioeconomic consequences of SLE and an appreciation of the potential impact of novel therapies.

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