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

George MD, Baker JF, Banerjee S, Busch H, Curtis D, Danila MI, Gavigan K, Kirby D, Merkel PA, Munoz G, Nowell WB, Stewart P, Sunshine W, Venkatachalam S, Xie F, Curtis JR. 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 rheumatology. 2021 Jun 1; 3(6):381-389.

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Abstract:

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.





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