• AAFP Partnership With Lupus Foundation of America Pays Dividends

    Both FPs, Patients Reap Benefits of Long-standing Collaboration

    September 17, 2020, 3:04 pm News Staff -- In 2015, the AAFP and the Lupus Foundation of America entered into a partnership to improve quality of life for individuals with lupus. The collaboration, which was funded by the CDC through the Partners United for Lupus Sustainable Education grant program, has produced significant benefits for both Academy members and the Foundation by enhancing the ability of FPs and other health care professionals to accurately diagnose and treat lupus, as well as by increasing overall awareness and knowledge.

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    "These resources will be very valuable for frontline FPs who take care of patients with lupus," Krishnan Narasimhan, M.D., an associate professor in the Department of Community and Family Medicine at Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, D.C., told AAFP News.

    Narasimhan, who helped develop an AAFP CME course on lupus management, added that although the condition is complex and challenging, the new resources derived from the partnership give FPs "a practical framework to diagnose and treat these patients."

    The partnership between the AAFP and the Foundation concluded in September at the end of the grant period. A close look reveals how both organizations have benefited from the collaborative process over the past five years.

    Story Highlights


    The PULSE grant program was designed to

    • create and implement an evidence-based national awareness and education campaign focused on health care professionals and those who have or are at risk for lupus;
    • develop a network of individuals and organizations to guide and support education, awareness and public health initiatives; and
    • increase use of evidence-based strategies for self-management education, physical activity and strength training for those with lupus and their clinicians and caregivers.

    The AAFP began working on those goals early by participating in the Lupus Foundation of America's 2016 Leadership Conference as a member of the PULSE advisory board, as well as joining the National Lupus Partners Network to deliver resources to family physicians and support the network's broader efforts.

    The Academy also served on an action partnership team the Foundation formed in 2017 to offer expertise in implementing an educational model to raise awareness about lupus through churches and community partnerships and among individual health care professionals. The effort helped the Foundation develop a program used in faith communities across the country to increase African Americans’ participation in lupus clinical trials.

    In 2018 and 2019, the Academy and the Foundation developed a CME strategy to improve family physicians’ recognition of lupus signs and symptoms, increase confidence in diagnosis, and advance knowledge on appropriate referral.

    Finally, in 2019 and 2020, the AAFP partnered with the Foundation to develop patient resources, as well as tools to help physicians improve communication during care transitions and to guide patient management plans.

    Benefits for Members, Patients and Caregivers

    AAFP members began seeing positive results from the partnership as early as 2016. That year, with input from the Foundation, the Academy first posted a lupus page on Familydoctor.org. The page has been updated several times with new information, including patient handouts in English and Spanish that dicuss

    "These resources have a patient-centered and quality-of-life focus, which addresses the real-world concerns of patients and caregivers who are dealing with this disease on a daily basis," Narasimhan said.

    Members also have the opportunity to learn about lupus and obtain CME credit in the process. In May 2019, the Academy began offering a CME course on management of lupus. The course, which is designed to help FPs differentiate the signs and symptoms of lupus from those of other autoimmune disorders and identify standard treatment options, provides 1.25 AAFP Prescribed credits.

    In July 2020, the AAFP published another CME product on autoimmune conditions, which contains a section on lupus and offers members who complete a quiz up to five AAFP Prescribed credits.

    To Narasimhan, the take-home message is simple: Because of the partnership between the Academy and the Lupus Foundation of America, more family physicians will be able to provide high-quality care for patients with lupus.

    "Family physicians can deliver significant aspects of the care of lupus patients," said Narasimhan. "They can gain the knowledge and understanding needed to manage the disease. They can partner with patients and rheumatologist colleagues to deliver this care.

    "I know many family physicians are uncomfortable with the complexity of care of lupus patients," Narasimhan added. "With these new resources, we have provided them with new tools that give them the ability to more confidently deliver this care."

    These resources, along with relevant articles and other materials, are available on the Academy's Patient Care lupus page.