Sjogren's (SHOW-grins) Advocate is a resource for patients and clinicians,
created by an MD with Sjogren's,
to help patients achieve more timely diagnosis and comprehensive care.
Paints a comprehensive picture of Sjogren's disease, with an emphasis on systemic manifestations. Systemic features are often overlooked even though they are found in nearly every patient who is carefully evaluated.
Does not emphasize sicca (dryness),which is just one of many important features of Sjogren's. Patients can usually find good sicca care, but may have trouble finding clinicians who are knowledgeable about systemic manifestations.
Counters Sjogren's myths and misinformation with an accurate, up-to-date explanation about the serious, systemic nature of the disease.
Offers practical tools and strategies for timely diagnosis. This allows for earlier treatment, which is more likely to be effective.
Provides patients and primary care providers (PCPs) helpful ways to improve patient care.
Why do Sjogren's patients have such a hard time getting good care?
Rheumatologists are the specialists who are supposed to take the lead in Sjogren’s management. In the United States, most rheumatologists look to the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) as their main source of clinical guidance.
Unfortunately, the ACR fails to publish and promote the Sjogren’s Clinical Practice Guidelines. ACR meetings and other continuing medical education programs repeatedly fail to update Sjogren's information or they leave it out altogether.
Sjogren's is always systemic and should never be referred to as a "sicca syndrome." Because Sjogren's medical education is often inadequate, rheumatologists do not always learn how to properly diagnose and manage the disease. Some still think of it as a nuisance sicca disease. Rheumatology care varies widely. Patients often go through multiple rheumatologists before they find one who provides comprehensive care.
Learn more about Sjogren's rheumatology care here.
Ignoring Sjogren’s and promoting outdated, incorrect information harms patients.
Many patients are diagnosed late, typically after the disease has far progressed.
Too often, they are dismissed, psychologized, and told incorrect information. Many are denied appropriate monitoring, treatment, and referrals even after diagnosis.
Sjogren's Advocate is for education and information purposes only.
It does not substitute for medical diagnosis and treatment.
Sjogren's Advocate is not part of the Sjogren's Foundation.
Please read the disclaimer page for important details.
You may feel overwhelmed by all of the new medical information and terminology.
It is a lot to take in when you are feeling sick and vulnerable.
Read through pages or blog posts without clicking links or looking up vocabulary the first time through. Then go back and re-read the information, checking unfamiliar terms or links to help you understand the material.
How Sjogren's Advocate can help you
Learning as much as you can about the disease is key. This information will help you advocate for up-to-date Sjogren's care. Not all clinicians are familiar with the current understanding of Sjogren's as a serious multisystem disease. You may want to bring notes and carefully selected clinician handouts to your appointments. Printouts of journal articles (use the citations) for your rheumatologist or PCP may be used to help you discuss your concerns. Local and online support groups such as Smart Patients are good resources for referrals, practical tips, and emotional support.
PCPs are often interested in Sjogren's Advocate material. However, I don't generally recommend printing out Sjogren's Advocate pages or blog posts for rheumatologists unless they are familiar with, and supportive of, the website. Rheumatologists may not be receptive to information written by a non-rheumatologist. They are more likely to be receptive to journal articles from peer-reviewed literature and other academic sources.
The citations allow you to take in articles (or abstracts of articles) about the topics you read about on Sjogren's Advocate.
A WORD OF CAUTION
Some areas of Sjogren's Advocate discuss the disconnect between the needs of Sjogren's patients and typical Sjogren's care. Understanding why Sjogren's care often falls short is the first step to knowing how to advocate for comprehensive care. Sjogren's Advocate offers tools and strategies for achieving the best care possible
However, if this topic feels overwhelming and upsetting to think about, you may want to limit yourself to the Sjogren's Foundation website for now.
FOR PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIANS (PCPs)
If you see adult patients, you are seeing Sjogren’s patients, mostly undiagnosed.(15) Sjogren’s is a serious disease, with significant morbidity. Many PCPs who attend my lectures are shocked to learn that Sjogren’s can actually be fatal (24). They have usually been taught that Sjogren's is an unimportant dryness disease.
PCPs are often the first clinicians to encounter early Sjogren's presentations. When Sjogren's is diagnosed early enough, it can make a big difference in outcome and quality of life.
Sjogren’s Advocate will help you learn to recognize Sjogren’s and take the first steps to diagnosis.
Most patients experience years, and sometimes decades, of disease progression before they finally get care.
Sjogren’s Advocate makes it easy for you to take action and explains your important role on your Sjogren’s patient's health care team.
Sjogren's is common, serious, and always systemic:
it should be a front burner diagnosis.
A personal note…
I learned early on how to use the medical literature to improve my own care, especially when I had complications with which my clinicians were not familiar.
I want other patients and PCPs to benefit from reliable scientific information without spending hours every week, like I do, learning about Sjogren’s.
I am passionate about helping other Sjogren’s patients because my personal experience has been so devastating. Like many, my diagnosis was long delayed despite being extremely ill. Most clinicians that I encounter to this day remain unfamiliar with Sjogren's. This should not happen for such a common, serious, systemic disease.
I would like to thank the many volunteers, especially Rebecca Lobo, who have helped me with design and editing. You have helped make this website so much better.