Moreover, the Department of Defense has included lupus as one of only 50 disease areas in its $278.7 million Senate appropriations bill that will fund the 2016 Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program. These new dollars will support scientists working to improve the treatment for lupus. Further, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have each issued requests for grant proposals centered on health disparities and lupus. Both agencies expect applicants to have strong, robust collaborations crossing multiple sectors (e.g., academia, research, health professionals, public health and patient services). The ACR is well positioned to respond to this funding opportunity because of TLI’s previous accomplishments, including the current projects:
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Explore This IssueAugust 2015
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- The Lupus Initiative’s Fellows Project, a focused pilot project in which rheumatology fellows in four focus cities have been educated to teach an estimated 600 frontline physicians and health professionals to recognize the signs and symptoms of lupus and its associated comorbidities. This project aims to enhance the ability of non-rheumatologists to recognize lupus and communicate better with their patients, as well as make appropriate referrals to rheumatologists. We expect this program will also translate into stronger bonds between physicians and the community as the level of knowledge about lupus increases, misinformation decreases and more timely diagnoses lead to earlier treatment. To date, approximately 400 health professionals have been educated through this program. Although we have not yet assessed the results of this project, a preliminary survey has shown that following this course, 93% of providers were more confident in recognizing the signs and symptoms of lupus, 94% gained knowledge about when to consider the diagnosis of lupus, and 90% were more secure about when to refer.
- Another TLI project, the Professional Outreach Project, provides lupus education to diverse health professionals via live continuing education sessions and a real-time tele-lecture series. To date, 266 providers have been reached through medical conferences and tele-lectures, with an additional three live medical conference sessions and one virtual education session yet to be completed. This activity is another avenue for providing largely non-rheumatologists with information about lupus and lupus-related health disparities in a way that can increase quality of patient care across the medical disciplines. Although the final analysis is yet to be done, preliminary data indicate 97% of provider respondents experienced a positive change in awareness about the severity, symptoms and prevalence of lupus. Ninety-one percent reported positive self-efficacy and intention change, which in this case means that a health professional will be more likely to act on what they’ve learned about lupus.
- The Lupus Initiative’s Expert Outreach Project supports the creation of an online lupus-specific education module to provide credit toward maintenance of rheumatology board certification (CARE: Lupus). This is available to our members and others at no cost and will provide 10 MOC credits.
Member support and involvement are vital, and many ACR members have been integral in both the development and execution of TLI projects. Notably, S. Sam Lim, MD, MPH, associate professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, is chair of the TLI Consortium and principal investigator of the Georgia Lupus Registry and has served an important leadership role.