Objective: Joint involvement is common among patients with systemic lupus erythematosus
(SLE). Aim of this work was to evaluate the correlation between the presence of joint involvement
and patient-reported pain, perception of disease activity, general health and quality of
Methods: Fifty consecutive SLE patients were enrolled in the study. All patients underwent a complete
clinical evaluation including a 44-joint count; in addition, an ultrasound evaluation of joint
involvement of hands and wrists was performed. The following patients reported outcomes (PROs)
were completed: Visual Analog Scales 0-100 mm (VAS) evaluating patients reported pain, patient’s
perception of global disease activity and general health (GH) and a validated Italian version
of the Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ).
Results: Fourteen patients (28%) reported a significant morning stiffness lasting for more than 30
minutes; hand or wrist arthritis was clinically detectable in 10 (20%) patients, while the US evaluation
exhibited at least one joint or tendon pathology in 18 patients (36%). The mean VAS score for
pain and disease activity perception was 27 (±27.7) mm and 25.3 (±25.2) mm, respectively, the
mean of GH score was 33.2 (±24.3) mm, and the mean HAQ score was 0.34 (±0.5). A significant
correlation was observed between VAS score for pain, patient’s perception of disease activity and
GH and the presence of arthritis.
Conclusion: PROs may play an important role in guiding therapeutic decisions and suggest the
utility of ultrasound evaluation in patients reporting articular symptoms.