Social Distancing, Health Care Disruptions, Telemedicine Use, and Treatment Interruption During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Patients With or Without Autoimmune Rheumatic Disease

ACR Open Rheumatol. 2021 May 2. doi: 10.1002/acr2.11239. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: We aimed to compare concerns, social distancing, health care disruptions, and telemedicine use in patients with autoimmune rheumatic disease (ARD) and non-ARD and to evaluate factors associated with immunomodulatory medication interruptions.

METHODS: Patients in a multistate community rheumatology practice network completed surveys from April 2020 to May 2020. Adults with common ARD (rheumatoid arthritis, spondyloarthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus) or non-ARD (gout, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis) were evaluated. Concerns about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), social distancing, health care disruptions, and telemedicine use were compared in patients with ARD versus non-ARD, adjusting for demographics, rural residence, and zipcode-based measures of socioeconomic status and COVID-19 activity. Factors associated with medication interruptions were assessed in patients with ARD.

RESULTS: Surveys were completed by 2319/36 193 (6.4%) patients with non-ARD and 6885/64 303 (10.7%) with ARD. Concerns about COVID-19 and social distancing behaviors were similar in both groups, although patients receiving a biologic or Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor reported greater concerns and were more likely to avoid friends/family, stores, or leaving the house. Patients with ARD were less likely to avoid office visits (45.2% vs. 51.0%, odds ratio [OR] 0.79 [0.70-0.89]) with similar telemedicine use. Immunomodulatory medications were stopped in 9.7% of patients with ARD, usually (86.9%) without a physician recommendation. Compared with patients with an office visit, the likelihood of stopping medication was higher for patients with a telemedicine visit (OR 1.54 [1.19-1.99]) but highest for patients with no visits (OR 2.26 [1.79-2.86]).

CONCLUSION: Patients with ARD and non-ARD reported similar concerns about COVID-19 and similar social distancing behaviors. Missed office visits were strongly associated with interruptions in immunomodulatory medication.

PMID:33934576 | DOI:10.1002/acr2.11239