Mendelson Studies Self-Management Experiences and Support Systems of Women With Lupus

UNM College of Nursing assistant professor, Cindy Mendelson, PhD, RN, has received a grant for a study to learn how women with lupus self- manage their symptoms, and to identify the sources of support used by women with lupus. For the disease that affects 1.5 million in the U.S., there are medications that treat some of the symptoms but nothing cures the illness - the key is developing a support system and managing the specific symptoms.

Systemic lupus erythematous (SLE) is an autoimmune illness that can cause inflammation, pain, and tissue damage throughout the body. Lupus affects women 8-9 times more frequently than men. Although some people with SLE have mild symptoms, it is a serious chronic disease that can be life threatening. Lupus is usually diagnosed during the childbearing years, when women are completing their education, raising children, and establishing careers. Managing symptoms and treatments often alters the course of their lives.

The goal of this study is to identify and describe the day-to-day self-management experiences of women living with SLE; identify and describe how lupus impacts upon the multiplicity of women's roles; and describe the sources of emotional and physical support available for lupus. The 15 month study, which is funded by NIH, will target Hispanic women for participation because lupus disproportionately affects women of color.

"We need to understand the day to day self-management experiences of women with lupus because that is the first necessary step to enhancing the ability of health care workers to successfully intervene to positively impact quality of life and physical functioning for these women and their families," Mendelson said. "The findings from this study will provide the first comprehensive glimpse into women's views of illness over time and into the processes that they use to manage and interpret their illness over an extended period."

The UNM College of Nursing provides nursing education, research, service and leadership in nursing for the state and nation. With baccalaureate and master's level education and web-based programs in such areas as acute care, midwifery and community health, the college focuses on asking and answering the most difficult questions about nursing care and how nurses can design and manage health care delivery to meets the needs of the state. 

Contact: Angela Heisel, 272-3322

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