ACR Takes Steps to Close the Gap in Lupus Care

October 30, 2020
Rheumatology Network Editorial Staff

The American College of Rheumatology has launched a project designed to resolve inequities in care for patients with systemic lupus erythematosus, a condition that is two or three times more common among ethnic minorities. In this interview, S. Sam Lim, M.D., MPH, chair of ACR’s Collaborative Initiatives Special Committee, tells us more about the project.

The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) has launched a project designed to resolve inequities in care for patients with systemic lupus erythematosus, a condition that is two or three times more common among ethnic minorities.

The organization was recently awarded a $7 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to support the program which is, in part, designed to train more healthcare providers to diagnose and treat patients with lupus.

“Despite the research and medical advancements in treatment, lupus-related disparities still persist,” There has been much research on disparities and why they exist in black and brown communities," said Starla Hairston Blanks, MBA, MPH, who serves as director of ACR's Collaborative Initiatives (COIN) office. “We know that lupus disproportionately affects persons of color and that it is two to three times more common in African American women compared to white women, often with worse outcomes.”

ACR will provide support to communities with the greatest impact of lupus disparities with new programs, including in-person interventions, online and in-person training and engagement programs with racially diverse and medically underserved communities. Other efforts include:

  • implementing educational sessions for healthcare providers and medical students on the signs and symptoms of lupus with an emphasis on differential diagnosis;
  • utilizing the ACR’s Rheumatology Informatics System for Effectiveness (RISE) registry to expand the quality and use of lupus specific electronic health record tools and disease activity assessments to establish quality measures;
  • increasing the availability of culturally and linguistically appropriate lupus education focused on increasing awareness, disparities, and symptom recognition; and
  • expanding available pediatric-to-adult lupus transition and care coordination materials by engaging and educating school-based health professionals.

“ACR’s membership, registry and existing networks create a unique opportunity to leverage its access to healthcare providers and communities most impacted with lupus disparities,” said S. Sam Lim, M.D., MPH, chair of the ACR’s Collaborative Initiatives Special Committee. “We have the experience and the initiative to create culturally appropriate information aimed at eliminating health disparities in in this rheumatic disease.”

In this interview, Dr. Lim tells us more about the program.