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Laboratory investigation results influence Physician’s Global Assessment (PGA) of disease activity in SLE


Objective To evaluate the impact of laboratory results on scoring of the Physician Global Assessment (PGA) of disease activity in systemic lupus erythematosus.

Methods Fifty clinical vignettes were presented via an online survey to a group of international lupus experts. For each case, respondents scored the PGA pre and post knowledge of laboratory test results (pre-lab and post-lab PGAs). Agreement between individual assessors and relationships between pre-lab and post-lab PGAs, and PGAs and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index 2000 (SLEDAI-2K) were determined. Respondents were also asked about factors they incorporate into their PGA determinations.

Results Sixty surveys were completed. The inter-rater PGA reliability was excellent (pre-lab intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) 0.98; post-lab ICC 0.99). Post-lab PGAs were higher than pre-lab PGAs: median (IQR) pre-lab PGA 0.5 (1.05), post-lab PGA 1 (1.3) (p<0.001), with a median (IQR) difference of 0.2 (0.45). In general, all abnormal labs including elevated anti-double stranded DNA antibody level (dsDNA) and low complement impacted PGA assessment. Cases with weakest correlations between pre-lab and post-lab PGA were characterised by laboratory results revealing nephritis and/or haematological manifestations. Both pre-lab and post-lab PGAs correlated with SLEDAI-2K. However, a significantly stronger correlation was observed between post-lab PGA and SLEDAI-2K. Multiple factors influenced PGA determinations. Some factors were considered by an overwhelming majority of lupus experts, with less agreement on others.

Conclusions We found excellent inter-rater reliability for PGAs in a group of international lupus experts. Post-lab PGA scores were higher than pre-lab PGA scores, with a significantly stronger correlation with the SLEDAI-2K. Our findings indicate that PGA scoring should be performed with knowledge of pertinent laboratory results.

  • systemic lupus erythematosus
  • outcomes research
  • disease activity

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