Psychosocial functioning of children with systemic lupus erythematosus


  • Conflict of interests: The authors declare no conflict of interests.

Dr Orawan Louthrenoo, Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, 50200, Thailand. Fax: 66 53 946461; email:


Aims:  Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic illness in children. Involvement of multiple systems; the chronicity, as well as the treatment, has had great impact on children and their families. The objective of this study was to assess emotional and behavioural problems in childhood lupus during disease remission.

Methods:  Children with SLE and healthy controls, aged 8–15 years, were studied. Disease remission was confirmed by using the SLE Disease Activity Index (SLEDAI). The Children's Depression Inventory (CDI) and Multidimensional Anxiety Scale for Children (MASC) were rated by the children themselves. The Child Behaviour Checklist was completed by their parents.

Results:  The sample included 40 children with SLE and 40 controls. Their mean age was 12.9 ± 2.1 and 12.1 ± 1.8 years in the SLE and control groups, respectively. The average duration of the disease was 2.6 years. The SLEDAI in the SLE group ranged from 0–1, indicating inactive disease. The mean CDI scores were 8.9 and 10.9 in lupus children and controls, respectively. The mean MASC score was 44.7 in children with SLE and 48.4 in controls. The internalizing, externalizing and total behavioural scores were not significantly different in both groups (9.0 vs. 10.6; 6.6 vs. 8.1; 27.3 vs. 32.5). Only the social competence score was lower in children with SLE (P= 0.03).

Conclusions:  SLE is a multi-system involvement disease with wide ranging effects on children's physical and psychosocial functioning. However, children with SLE, during inactive disease, were not found to be at increased risk of psychosocial dysfunctions.