Patients With Rheumatic Diseases Are More Likely to Avoid Healthcare During COVID-19 Pandemic
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Poorer results were associated with lower socioeconomic status (SES) and not being able to access telehealth, which emphasizes the need for access to healthcare and attention to vulnerable populations, such as those with rheumatic diseases, during the pandemic.
Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA), ankylosing spondylitis (AS), and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) were more likely to avoid office visits, laboratory testing, and discontinue disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) without physician indication during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study published in The Journal of Rheumatology.1

Patients who stopped DMARD treatment were also more likely to not have available telehealth measures and avoided office visits.

"Although there are limited data on how immunosuppression affects the risk of severe COVID-19, medication interruptions can risk disease flares and glucocorticoid increases, both associated with infection risk," stated investigators. "The American College of Rheumatology recommends continuing DMARD unless patients are exposed or infected, but these recommendations may not reach patients or be accepted by them."

Patients with rheumatic diseases are at an increased risk of developing infections due to their immunosuppression and likelihood of developing comorbidities. The ArthritisPower Patient-Powered Research Network (PPRN) registry conducted this study to dissect patient experiences and discovered high levels of concern about COVID-19, which resulted in disruptions in monitoring, office visits, and DMARD usage.

Participants completed surveys which included questions about concerns and changes in behaviors related to COVID-19 and their personal healthcare routines. These results were compared between different autoimmune conditions, DMARDs usage, and geographical measures of income, education, COVID-19 activity, and urban status. All participants were >18 years and surveys were completed between March 29 and May 26, 2020. The survey included questions about COVID-19 concerns, respiratory illness, COVID-19 testing and diagnosis, DMARD interruption, and general healthcare avoidance. Participants who…
Lana Dykes
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