Transforming Care for Individuals With Childhood-onset Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (cSLE)


Michigan State University


Not yet enrolling


Systemic Lupus Erythematosus of Childhood (Disorder)


Behavioral: TEACH

Study type


Funder types

Other U.S. Federal agency



Details and patient eligibility


This study aims to investigate the feasibility and effectiveness of a cognitive behavioral coping skills program, Treatment and Education Approach for Childhood-onset Lupus (TEACH), for youth with cSLE when integrated into medical care. This TEACH program aims to teach participants skills in order to cope with fatigue, pain, and depressive symptoms--symptoms that commonly affect adolescents and young adults with lupus.

Full description

Background/Rationale: Childhood-onset systemic lupus erythematosus (cSLE) is a chronic, multisystem, autoimmune disease that disproportionately impacts females of color. It is associated with a more severe disease presentation, and a 20-fold increased risk of mortality compared to adult-onset SLE. Depressive symptoms, anxiety, fatigue, and pain are among the most common presenting complaints which impact health-related quality of life (QOL) in individuals with cSLE. These symptoms are potentially modifiable with behavioral intervention. Our team has created an evidence-based, brief and tailored 6-session program, Treatment and Education Approach for Childhood-onset lupus [TEACH], which can be delivered in person or remotely using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) strategies to address mental health symptoms, fatigue, and pain. Our nearly completed multi-site RCT, comparing TEACH (delivered by research interventionists) to standard medical care, shows efficacy for psychological/functional outcomes and benefit for disease-related outcomes. Although TEACH is extremely promising, patients do not currently have access to this program as part of their rheumatology care. cSLE patients would likely benefit from TEACH integrated into their medical care, leveraging existing relationships with their providers. As rheumatology teams are often identified as primary providers by cSLE patients, they have a key role in facilitating mental health intervention to enhance patient QOL. They are therefore well-positioned for training in the management of these common, debilitating, yet modifiable symptoms. Objective: The objective is to determine the effectiveness of a coping skills program, TEACH, designed to improve psychological/functional- and disease- related outcomes in youth with cSLE. We will also investigate longitudinal trajectories of depressive symptoms in recipients and explore implementation outcomes. Specific Aims & Hypotheses: Aim 1: To examine the effect of TEACH on psychological/ functional outcomes and disease-related outcomes in youth with cSLE in real-world rheumatology settings versus medical TAU at post assessment (after 8 weeks). We hypothesize that both psychological/functional outcomes (depressive symptoms [primary], fatigue [secondary], anxiety, pain, cognitive function) and disease-related outcomes (health-related QOL, medication adherence, disease activity/flares) will significantly improve for the TEACH group vs medical TAU. Aim 2: To determine longitudinal trajectories (over 1 year) of depressive symptoms, the impact of TEACH, and its association with patient characteristics, psychological/functional outcomes, and disease-related outcomes. We hypothesize that: i) distinct trajectories of depressive symptoms [low stable, improving, worsening] will emerge through growth mixture modeling, ii) TEACH vs TAU will be associated with decreased depressive symptoms and improved functioning over time, and iii) worsening depressive symptoms will be associated with poorer psychological/functional outcomes & disease-related outcomes. Aim 3: To evaluate TEACH implementation outcomes using a mixed method approach. We will identify implementation outcomes (e.g., barriers and facilitators, acceptability, fidelity, reach, sustainability) of TEACH through surveys and interviews of providers and patients to inform future adoption/sustainability. We hypothesize results will demonstrate TEACH implementation success (e.g., high acceptability, appropriateness, feasibility, fidelity, knowledge of intervention), and metrics of sustainability will be positive. Research Strategy: We propose a multi-site stepped wedge trial utilizing an effectiveness-implementation hybrid design (type 1) to study the clinical effectiveness and implementation of TEACH administered by integrated trained mental health champions. Seven participating sites across the US and Canada will train integrated mental health champions on the rheumatology team to deliver an empirically supported coping skills program, TEACH, to youth with cSLE. Our multidisciplinary research team consists of rheumatologists, behavioral scientists, and consumer advocates representing several national lupus organizations. Impact: Integrated mental health champions will provide evidence-based strategies to improve psychologicaland disease-related outcomes in youth with cSLE. Our vision is to transform care and improve patient QOL.


196 estimated patients




12 to 22 years old


No Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion criteria

    1. be diagnosed with cSLE, meeting the revised American College of Rheumatology Classification Criteria for SLE by age 18 years
    1. be between the ages of 12 and 22 years
    1. in recognition of the heterogeneity of cSLE symptoms, have elevations in fatigue (i.e., T scores ≥60; or at least moderate symptoms, on the PROMIS measure) OR depressive symptoms (i.e., ≥10 on the PHQ-9), OR pain (i.e., average pain ≥3 out of 10 on the Pain VAS)
    1. have English language proficiency (their primary caregiver can have English or Spanish language proficiency for the child to enroll)
    1. those under age 18 years (US), or 16 years (Canada) must have a consenting caregiver

Exclusion criteria

    1. other chronic medical conditions (e.g., juvenile arthritis)
    1. a documented developmental delay, severe cognitive impairment, or thought disorder
    1. an untreated major psychiatric illness (e.g., bipolar disorder, psychosis, severe depression (score ≥20) or active suicidal ideation (SI), based on the Pediatric Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) items plus clinical interview; see Measures section)

Trial design

Primary purpose




Interventional model

Parallel Assignment


Single Blind

196 participants in 2 patient groups

Experimental group
Participants will undergo a cognitive behavioral coping skills program and continue medical treatment as usual.
Behavioral: TEACH
No Intervention group
Participants will only continue medical treatment as usual.

Trial contacts and locations



Central trial contact

Michelle A Adler, BS; Natoshia R Cunningham, PhD

Data sourced from

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