The heterogeneous nature of the signs and symptoms of Sjögren’s syndrome (SS) often causes delays in diagnosis. The reasons for these delays have not been investigated in Japan and need to be determined.
We conducted a questionnaire survey of members of the Japanese Sjögren’s Association for Patients (JSAP). Questionnaire items were demographic (sex, age at diagnosis and current age) and factors associated with delayed diagnosis (age at first visit to hospital or clinic, medical department first attended, and initial symptoms). Patients were classified into those diagnosed in <1 year and those diagnosed in ≥1 year.
Of the 510 patients questioned, 276 returned the questionnaire, and 255 questionnaires were assessed. The average time to diagnosis was 3.47 years. After adjustment, risk factors for delayed diagnosis were initial visit to an internal medicine department [adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 3.13, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.42-6.92] or ophthalmology department (aOR, 2.63, 95% CI 1.07-6.50), younger age at initial visit to hospital or clinic (aOR, 0.96, 95% CI 0.94-0.99), and having symptoms of only dry eye (aOR, 2.69, 95% CI 1.09-6.64). Diagnosis was faster when patients had a dry mouth (aOR, 0.55, 95% CI 0.30-1.00) or cutaneous symptoms (aOR, 0.29, 95% CI 0.11-0.82).
Risk factors for delayed SS diagnosis were younger age, initial visit to internal medicine or ophthalmology department, and having only dry eye. We need to raise awareness of SS among doctors and the general public to improve early diagnosis and therapeutic potential.