American Journal of Clinical Dermatology

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 465–475 | Cite as

Chronic Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus: Depression Burden and Associated Factors

  • Jennifer Hong
  • Laura Aspey
  • Gaobin Bao
  • Tamara Haynes
  • S. Sam Lim
  • Cristina DrenkardEmail author
Original Research Article



Depression may occur in up to 30% of individuals with cutaneous lupus erythematosus (CLE), many of whom may also have systemic manifestations. Chronic cutaneous lupus erythematosus (CCLE) conditions are less likely to present systemic involvement than acute and subacute conditions but more often cause permanent scarring and dyspigmentation. However, little is known about depression in those who have CCLE confined to the skin (primary CCLE). As African Americans are at high risk for primary CCLE and depression, we aimed to investigate the prevalence of and explore the risk factors for depression in a population-based cohort of predominantly Black patients with primary CCLE.


This was a cross-sectional analysis of a cohort of individuals with a documented diagnosis of primary CCLE, established in metropolitan Atlanta, GA, USA. Participants were recruited from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) population-based Georgia Lupus Registry, multicenter dermatology clinics, community practices, and self-referrals. The Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) was used to measure the primary outcome: depressive symptoms. Stand-alone questions were used to assess sociodemographics and healthcare utilization. Emotional, informational, and instrumental support were measured with PROMIS short forms, interpersonal processes of care with the IPC-29 survey, and skin-related quality of life with the Skindex-29+ tool.


Of 106 patients, 92 (86.8%) were female, 91 (85.8%) were Black, 45 (42.9%) were unemployed or disabled, and 28 (26.4%) reported moderate to severe depressive symptoms. Depression severity was lower in patients who were aged ≥ 60 years, were married, or had graduated from college. Univariate analysis showed that being employed (odds ratio [OR] 0.24; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.10–0.61), insured (OR 0.23; 95% CI 0.09–0.60), reporting higher instrumental, informational, and emotional support (OR 0.75; 95% CI 0.60–0.94; OR 0.62; 95% CI 0.49–0.78; and OR 0.48; 95% CI 0.35–0.65, respectively), visiting a primary care physician in the last year (OR 0.16; 95% CI 0.04–0.61) and reporting better physician–patient interactions (OR 0.56; 95% CI 0.37–0.87) were negatively associated with depression. Patient’s perception of staff disrespect (OR 2.30; 95% CI 1.19–4.47) and worse skin-related quality of life (OR 1.04; 95% CI 1.02–1.06) rendered higher risk. In multivariate analysis, only perception of staff disrespect (OR 2.35; 95% CI 1.06–5.17) and lower emotional support (OR 0.48; 95% CI 0.35–0.66) remained associated with depression.


Over one-quarter of a predominantly Black population-based cohort of individuals with primary CCLE reported moderate to severe depression, a rate three to five times higher than described previously in the general population from the same metropolitan Atlanta area. Our findings suggest that, while patient’s perception of discrimination in the healthcare setting may play a role as a determinant of depression, social support may be protective. In addition to routine mental health screening and depression treatment, interventions directed at providing emotional support and improving office staff interpersonal interactions may contribute to reduce the risk of depression in patients with CCLE.


Compliance with Ethical Standards


The GOAL Cohort is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) grant 1U01DP005119. The content of this research is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the CDC.

IRB approval status

Reviewed and approved by Emory IRB#00003656.

Conflict of interest

JH, LA, GB, TH, SSL, and CD have no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medicine and Department of EpidemiologyEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Medicine and Department of DermatologyEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Medicine, Division of RheumatologyEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA
  4. 4.Department Medicine and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA

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