Peer-Reviewed Publication

A systematic review of HRQoL, fatigue and health utilities in lupus nephritis

Health-related quality of life, fatigue and health utilities in lupus nephritis: A systematic literature review

Saifuddin Kharawala, Gavneet Kaur, Hemlata Shukla, David Alexander Scott, Neil Hawkins, Wen-Hung Chen, Kerry Gairy 


Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic, autoimmune disease characterized by abnormal B-cell activation and the presence of autoantibodies, which can result in organ damage. Lupus nephritis (LN) is the most common severe organ manifestation of SLE and may result in impaired kidney function. However, there is limited research on the health-related quality of life (HRQoL) burden amongst patients with LN. The objective of this systematic literature review was to assess the HRQoL, fatigue and health utilities associated with LN.


A structured literature search (GSK Study 212980) of the MEDLINE and Embase databases was conducted in July 2019 and updated September 2021. Relevant international congress abstracts from 2016 to 2021 were searched, and gray literature searches and keyword-based searches in PubMed, Google, and Google Scholar were also conducted. Results were screened according to predefined criteria and data on the outcomes of interest were extracted. A quantitative analysis was conducted to supplement the narrative review, to provide 36-item Short Form survey (SF-36) estimates, and to determine variation by prognostic factors.


Of 1155 articles identified, 26 studies for a total of 3440 patients were included. Patients with LN showed poorer HRQoL and more fatigue than healthy controls/the general population, although these were similar between patients with SLE with and without LN. HRQoL was worse in patients with LN Class III/IV or with active disease. Fatigue was generally reported as the most burdensome symptom and was associated with lower HRQoL and increased treatment dissatisfaction. During induction treatment, HRQoL and fatigue were improved with mycophenolate mofetil versus cyclophosphamide. HRQoL improved over time with treatment amongst patients with active LN. Very limited data were identified assigning utilities to health states for cost-effectiveness analysis. Nine studies were considered for quantitative analysis of baseline SF-36 scores. The analysis suggested that LN has a significant impact across all SF-36 domains, with the lowest scores in the general health perceptions and role-physical domains and physical component summary.


There is a large HRQoL burden in patients with LN, in particular regarding symptoms of fatigue. Future research should focus on investigating fatigue severity and health utilities in LN.