Lupus Awareness in Southwest Georgia – Information from the American College of Rheumatology
In 2009, the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) created The Lupus Initiative (TLI), a national program dedicated to reducing health disparities in lupus. Initial support was provided by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health, Office on Women’s Health and Office of the Surgeon General. TLI is a multi-faceted education program designed to reduce disparities and improve outcomes among people with lupus. The initiative is dedicated to improving the diagnosis, treatment and management of lupus in populations disproportionately affected based on race, ethnicity and gender. TLI provides teaching and learning resources for health care professionals, patients and supporters. The goals of these educational resources are to increase the number of medical professionals with knowledge and expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of lupus, to lessen missed and misdiagnoses, to improve communication toward greater patient adherence to treatment regimens and to increase the number of patients who take an active role in their disease management.
The ACR’s current interventions include increasing awareness and education of health care providers and communities in Southwest Georgia, a 38-county section of Georgia that is persistently impoverished and underserved.
To address education of non-rheumatology health care providers, the ACR is currently carrying out a project where primary providers (primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and other health care professionals) learn to treat a person with lupus on their own or to co-manage with a geographically-distant rheumatologist until an appropriate referral can be made. This is taking the form of a live, virtual education series. To address community awareness of lupus in rural and micropolitan areas of Southwest Georgia, the ACR is currently carrying out a lupus awareness campaign aimed at increasing information and decreasing misinformation about lupus for persons with lupus, their caregivers and loved ones, and the community at large.