Rheumatic Disease Patients Still Need Pandemic Treatment Counsel

November 5, 2020
Amy Reyes

A survey of 9,004 patients with rheumatic disease―both autoimmune-related and non-autoimmune―shows that patients may need continued medication counseling through the duration of the pandemic, finds a study due to be presented on Friday at the American College of Rheumatology.

A survey of 9,004 patients with rheumatic diseaseboth autoimmune-related and non-autoimmuneshows that patients may need continued medication counseling through the duration of the pandemic.

The results of this study will be presented by Michael George, M.D., of the University of Pennsylvania during the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology annual meeting on Friday.

The survey included 7,176 with autoimmune-related rheumatic disease (such as, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, or systemic lupus erythematosus) and 1,828 with non-autoimmune-related rheumatic conditions (such as, osteoarthritis and osteoporosis).

Patients in the autoimmune disease group were younger (mean age 58 years vs. 69 years) and most were female (78% in the autoimmune group vs. 85% in the non-autoimmune group. Among this group, 66 patients were diagnosed with COVID-19 and 353 were diagnosed with respiratory illnesses. Regardless of their disease status, patients in both groups expressed similar concerns about COVID-19 and exhibited similar social distancing behaviors.

Autoimmune patients with lupusand those treated with biologics such as Janus kinase inhibitors (JAKi) or glucocorticoidsexpressed more concerns than other patients. For example, of 5,543 patients being treated with a DMARD, 571 stopped their medication because of concerns about COVID-19 (and they did so without discussing this with their physician), but this group was more likely to schedule telehealth visits (38% versus 33%) and obtain laboratory tests than the comparative group.

"These results help us recognize that COVID-19 concerns and disruptions in healthcare are having large effects on patients with autoimmune disease, but also those with nonautoimmune conditions in a rheumatology practice. This project is ongoing and we are continuing to collect data as the pandemic continues," Dr. George said. "A key takeaway from what we've learned so far is the need to ensure that patients have access to rheumatic care especially for vulnerable populations. And, that we are communicating with patients about the importance of continuing their medications."

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ABSTRACT NUMBER: 0468. "Concerns and Health-Related Behaviors During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Patients with or Without Autoimmune Rheumatic Disease in a Large Physician Network," Michael George, et al. Date: Friday, November 6, 2020


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