ARRC – Autoimmune Resource & Research Centre

The systemic lupus study used cognitive tests to estimate if there is a cognitive element in a cohort of Lupus patients in the Hunter/Central Coast areas of NSW.

The SLICE study initially aimed for 50 female patients and had more than this as volunteers. However with the exclusion criteria of age (no older than 60years) and incidence of brain injury – strokes etc. Final patient sample was 48.

All people that were eligible to participate in the study completed both the automated research assessment tool for cognitive evaluation developed by Dr Peter Schofield (ARC) by listening to a recording and filling out a booklet. The second set of assessments involved being interviewed and also for the participants to undertake a number tests (battery) which were originally put together by the American College of Rheumatologists (ACR) to measure cognitive impairment in SLE patients.

Cognitive impairment was defined by the ACR as being 2 or more standard deviations (after statistical analysis) below the average (mean) compared to normal patients. Cognitive decline is defined as being 1.5 – 2 standard deviations below the mean of normal patients.

From the battery of tests used, we concentrated on the following domains:

  1. simple attention
  2. complex attention
  3. memory
  4. visual spatial processing
  5. language
  6. reasoning/ problem solving
  7. psychomotor speed and
  8. executive function.

The results so far indicate that we have duplicated most of the findings in studies that have been completed across the world.  The SLICE study has identified that there are cognitive impairments in the SLICE participant SLE group as compared with normal scores; however, no consistent pattern has been defined so far. This means that no trend in a single one domain has yet been established.

To date the battery has been more sensitive in establishing cognitive impairment than the automated ARC tool. The SLICE study also identified a high level of anxiety evident in the participant group.  Hopefully it wasn’t related to having to do the test with me.

ARRC and the study coordinator, Heidi would like to thank again all the people that have helped us and were involved in the study.