, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 511-521

Characterization of cognitive dysfunction in Sjögren’s syndrome patients

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Abstract

Sjögren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disorder primarily affecting women, with decreased saliva and tear production as the principal characteristic. Cognitive, neurological, and psychiatric disorders also are associated with Sjögren’s. The present study addressed the hypothesis that patients with Sjögren’s syndrome differ significantly from matched controls in the prevalence and impact of a number of neuropsychiatric abnormalities. Sjögren’s patients and controls (n = 37 per group) underwent medical and psychiatric evaluation, demographic assessments, quality of life and symptom evaluation, and extensive testing of cognitive function and memory. Patients and controls were closely matched for age, gender distribution, verbal IQ, marital status, educational level, employment status, and current/past medical or psychiatric history. On most subjective self-ratings, Sjögren’s patients reported greater fatigue, impaired physical functioning, feeling depressed, and autonomic symptomatology compared to controls. Impaired memory was described mainly as loss of thought continuity in the midst of a task or activity. However, the majority of objective measures of cognition, psychomotor function, and memory showed minimal differences between groups. Sjögren’s patients rate themselves as impaired on multiple ratings of emotional, cognitive, and physical function, but objective measures of cognition reveal fewer substantive differences between patients and matched controls. Sjögren’s patients perceive deteriorated physical function over time, but they achieve a level of functioning comparable to controls despite the burden of their illness.