Lupus is a chronic autoimmune condition that can cause inflammation and pain in any part of the body. Although there are several kinds of lupus, the most prevalent form is systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Lupus most commonly affects the skin, joints, and internal organs. Because lupus can affect many different parts of the body, the symptoms may be wide-ranging and difficult to diagnose. As the front-line of primary care, family physicians can play an important role in early diagnosis and long-term care for patients diagnoses with lupus.1
Lupus can be a difficult condition to manage for patients and their physician. Patients with lupus should receive ongoing education, counseling and support to help manage the condition.1,2 Lupus that does not affect major organ systems can be effectively monitored in a primary care setting, but long-term management of lupus often requires a strong collaborative care approach with other subspecialists.1,3,4 Shared decision making is an important part of care management, and ongoing care should be closely coordinated between patients’ family physician and the rest of their care team.3,5
The AAFP has a variety of resources to help family physicians improve symptom recognition, diagnosis and improve the quality of life for people with lupus.
1. Lam NC, Ghetu MV, Bieniek ML. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: Primary Care Approach to Diagnosis and Management. Am Fam Physician. 2016;94(4):284‐294.
2. Hale ED et al. “Joining the dots” for patients with systemic lupus erythematosus: personal perspectives of health care from a qualitative study. Annals Rheum Dis. 2006 May; 65(5): 585-589.
3. American College of Rheumatology Ad Hoc Committee on Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Guidelines. Guidelines for referral and management of systemic lupus erythematosus in adults. Arthritis Rheum. 1999;42(9):1785–1796.
4. Yazdany J, Tonner C, Trupin L, et al. Provision of preventive health care in systemic lupus erythematosus: data from a large observational cohort study. Arthritis Res Ther. 2010;12(3):R84.
5. Qu H et al. Mapping Perceptions of Lupus Medication Decision-Making facilitators: the importance of patient context. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken) 2016 Dec;68(12): 1787-1794.