An intervention to reduce psychosocial and biological indicators of stress in African American lupus patients: The balancing lupus experiences with stress strategies study


Objective: Very little is known about the impact of psychosocial stress on African American lupus patients. Due to the exposure of African Americans to a unique trajectory of stressors throughout life, it may be critical to understand the relationship between psychosocial stress and underlying biological mechanisms that influence disease activity and pathology in this high risk group. Methods: The Balancing Lupus Experiences with Stress Strategies (BLESS) study piloted the validated “Better Choices, Better Health” Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP) in 30 African-American lupus patients participating in the SLE Clinic Database Project at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). Measures of psychosocial and biological indicators of stress were collected in all of the patients in each of the study conditions before and after intervention activities, as well as four months’ post-intervention, to assess the effectiveness of the program in reducing perceived and biological indicators of stress. Results: Participation in the workshops had large effects upon depression (d = 1.63 and d = 1.68), social/role activities limitations (d =1.15), health distress (d = 1.13 and d = 0.78), fatigue (d = 1.03), pain (d = 0.96), and lupus self-efficacy (d = 0.85). Neither the differences in cortisol or DHEA levels pre- and post-intervention were found to be significantly different between intervention participants and controls. Conclusion: The intervention workshops acted to reduce perceived stress and improve quality of life. Our findings imply that comparable, if not more significant gains in relevant health indicators are possible in African American patients when provided the opportunity to participate in CDSMP’s.

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Williams, E. , Penfield, M. , Kamen, D. and Oates, J. (2014) An intervention to reduce psychosocial and biological indicators of stress in African American lupus patients: The balancing lupus experiences with stress strategies study. Open Journal of Preventive Medicine, 4, 22-31. doi: 10.4236/ojpm.2014.41005.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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