The symptoms associated with Sjögren’s disease (Sjögren’s) are well-documented from the physician’s perspective. However, from the patient’s perspective, there is limited information on symptoms and their impact on health-related quality of life (HRQoL). This study aimed to provide an expanded understanding of patients’ experience of Sjögren’s and how symptoms impact HRQoL using a novel multi-method social media listening (SML) approach.
A total of 26,950 social media posts with relevant content on Sjögren’s posted by social media users from the USA, Canada, Australia, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and China were analysed using an artificial intelligence natural language processing tool to explore patient conversations. Symptoms by level of impact on patients were characterised based on ‘commonness’ and ‘bothersomeness’. Applied concept association analysis was used to assess relationships between symptom domains and impact domains. A qualitative framework was applied to explore words and phrases patients use to describe symptoms and their impacts.
Five of the identified symptom domains were very impactful: Pain; Dry Mouth and Throat; Fatigue, Energy and Sleep; Emotional Balance; and Dry Eye. The symptom domains Pain and Dry Mouth and Throat were the most common, while those of Emotional Balance and Fatigue, Energy and Sleep were the most bothersome. Symptom domains most closely associated with four HRQoL impact domains were Fatigue, Energy and Sleep, Dry Mouth and Throat and Dry Eye with Daily Functioning; Fatigue, Energy and Sleep with Financial Health; Emotional Balance with Psychological Wellbeing and Gynaecological Issues with Social Wellbeing.
The results of this SML study show that Sjögren’s affects diverse aspects of patients’ lives, with symptoms extending beyond dry eyes and mouth and impacting daily living and functioning. Because symptoms may affect patients differently, these results highlight the importance of measuring impact on HRQoL to assess patient outcomes and treatment options in routine clinical practice and clinical trials.

© 2023. The Author(s).