Background: People with rheumatic disease may be at higher risk for more severe course with COVID- 19, and the adverse effects of drugs used to treat rheumatic diseases is a major concern.
Objective: We conducted this survey to learn about the real impact of COVID-19 pandemic on patients with rheumatic diseases.
Methods: Participants were asked to complete a questionnaire using a telephonic interview conducted by two rheumatologists. Rheumatic disease characteristics, knowledge and attitude toward COVID-19, and impacts of pandemic on rheumatology care and patient’s compliance were assessed.
Results: We included 307 patients in the survey, and rheumatoid arthris was the main rheumatic disease. Patients had mostly moderate level of knowledge about COVID-19, and patients with higher level of education were more likely to have better knowledge. Participants respected mainly recommended preventive measures. The pandemic and sanitary containment impacted strongly the rheumatology care. Over quarter of patients noted worsening of their rheumatic disease, two-thirds reported postponed or canceled medical apointments and more than three quarters postponed their laboratory tests. Patients with higher disease activity were more likely to have lack of follow-up. Medication change was noted in more than third of cases. It was mostly stopped, and DMARDs were mainly affected. Patients living in rural areas and who had canceled, or postponed their appointments were more likely to change their treatment.
Conclusion: Our data are useful to better manage rheumatic patients. Physicians are encouraged to renew contact with their patients to insure medication compliance.
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