OBJECTIVES: To describe disease characteristics and treatment modalities in a multidisciplinary cohort of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients in Switzerland.
METHODS: Cross-sectional analysis of 255 patients included in the Swiss SLE Cohort and coming from centres specialised in Clinical Immunology, Internal Medicine, Nephrology and Rheumatology. Clinical data were collected with a standardised form. Disease activity was assessed using the Safety of Estrogens in Lupus Erythematosus National Assessment-SLE Disease Activity Index (SELENA-SLEDAI), an integer physician’s global assessment score (PGA) ranging from 0 (inactive) to 3 (very active disease) and the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR). The relationship between SLE treatment and activity was assessed by propensity score methods using a mixed-effect logistic regression with a random effect on the contributing centre.
RESULTS: Of the 255 patients, 82% were women and 82% were of European ancestry. The mean age at enrolment was 44.8 years and the median SLE duration was 5.2 years. Patients from Rheumatology had a significantly later disease onset. Renal disease was reported in 44% of patients. PGA showed active disease in 49% of patients, median SLEDAI was 4 and median ESR was 14 millimetre/first hour. Prescription rates of anti-malarial drugs ranged from 3% by nephrologists to 76% by rheumatologists. Patients regularly using anti-malarial drugs had significantly lower SELENA-SLEDAI scores and ESR values.
CONCLUSION: In our cohort, patients in Rheumatology had a significantly later SLE onset than those in Nephrology. Anti-malarial drugs were mostly prescribed by rheumatologists and internists and less frequently by nephrologists, and appeared to be associated with less active SLE.