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1.
BMC Rheumatol ; 6(1): 76, 2022 Nov 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2139791

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Although patients with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs) are at increased risk for adverse outcomes of COVID-19 illness compared to healthy controls, they also have lower rates of willingness to be vaccinated. Previous research has identified reasons for vaccine hesitancy among patients with RMDs (such as concerns about side effects and flares), but little is known about what these reasons mean in the context of patients' lives, or how vaccine decision making is experienced from a patient perspective. Our objective was to describe decision-making about COVID-19 vaccination among RMD patients. METHODS: Participants in a RMD registry were invited to complete monthly online surveys regarding COVID-19 vaccination from March-June 2021. We qualitatively analyzed comments from two open-ended survey questions reporting general experiences with vaccination and side effects. Comments were coded for attitudes towards COVID-19 vaccination, vaccine access, rheumatologic medication management around vaccination, and vaccine side effects. Themes were identified for the process and context of COVID-19 vaccine decisions, patient motivations for receiving or avoiding vaccination, and consistency of peri-vaccine medication management with current ACR guidelines. RESULTS: We analyzed 710 comments from 537 respondents. Commenting respondents had a mean age of 64 years, were 87% female, 94% white, and 93% received/intended to receive ≥ 1 dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Desire for protection and a return to normal routines motivated some commenters to get vaccinated, while concerns about vaccine side effects motivated others to delay or avoid vaccination. Several commenters reported disease flares following vaccination. Some commenters did not consult their providers about vaccination and failed to withhold immunomodulatory medications during vaccination, while others withheld medications more conservatively than recommended by current ACR guidelines, either on their own or directed by their provider. CONCLUSIONS: While most commenters were vaccine-accepting, challenges to COVID-19 vaccine uptake in the RMD population may include fears of side effects, including worsened RMD symptoms, and perceptions that vaccination is unnecessary. Addressing these concerns and beliefs may be critical for promoting vaccination in this population.

2.
Rheumatol Int ; 41(10): 1755-1761, 2021 Oct.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1384393

ABSTRACT

The SARS-CoV-2 global pandemic resulted in major disruptions to medical care. We aimed to understand changes in outpatient care delivery and use of telemedicine in U.S. rheumatology practices during this period. Rheumatology Informatics System Effectiveness (RISE) is a national, EHR-enabled registry that passively collects data on all patients seen by participating practices. Included practices were required to have been participating in RISE from January 2019 through August 2020 (N = 213). We compared total visit counts and telemedicine visits during March-August 2020 to March-August 2019 and stratified by locations in states with shelter-in-place (SIP) orders. We assessed characteristics of patients within each practice, including primary rheumatic diagnosis and disease activity scores, where available. We included 213 practices with 945,160 patients. Overall, we found visit counts decreased by 10.9% (from 1,302,455 to 1,161,051) between March and August 2020 compared to 2019; this drop was most dramatic during the month of April (- 22.3%). Telemedicine visits increased from 0% to a mean of 12.1%. Practices in SIP states had more dramatic decreases in visits, (11.5% vs. 5.3%). We found no major differences in primary diagnoses or disease activity across the two periods. We detected a meaningful decrease in rheumatology visits in March-August 2020 during the SARS-CoV-2 global pandemic compared to the year prior with a concomitant increase in the use of telemedicine. Future work should address possible adverse consequences to patient outcomes due to decreased contact with clinicians.


Subject(s)
Health Services Accessibility/statistics & numerical data , Office Visits/statistics & numerical data , Rheumatology/organization & administration , Telemedicine/statistics & numerical data , Adult , Aged , COVID-19/epidemiology , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Pandemics , Registries , Rheumatology/statistics & numerical data , SARS-CoV-2 , United States/epidemiology
3.
Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken) ; 73(9): 1322-1331, 2021 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1344956

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: To understand medication, lifestyle, and clinical care changes of persons with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) during the first months (March 2020 through May 2020) of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US. METHODS: Data were collected from adults with RA participating in FORWARD, The National Databank for Rheumatic Diseases observational registry, who answered COVID-19 web-based surveys in May 2020 and previously provided baseline characteristics and medication use prior to the US COVID-19 pandemic. We compared medication changes by disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) exposure in logistic models that were adjusted for age, sex, comorbidities including pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases, education level, health insurance status, RA disease activity, fatigue, and polysymptomatic distress. RESULTS: Of 734 respondents, 221 (30%) reported medication changes. Among respondents who experienced a medication change, i.e., "medication changers/changers," glucocorticoids (GCs) were more commonly used compared to respondents who did not experience a medication change ("non-changers") (33% versus 18%). Non-hydroxychloroquine conventional DMARDs were less commonly used in changers compared to non-changers pre-COVID-19 (49% versus 62%), and changers reported more economic hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to non-changers (23% versus 15%). While JAK inhibitor use was associated with the likelihood of a medication change, with an odds ratio (OR) of 1.9 (95% confidence interval [95% CI] 1.0, 3.4), only pre-COVID GC use remained a strong predictor for medication change in multivariable models (OR 3.0 [95% CI 1.9, 4.9]). Change in care was observed to have a significant association with pulmonary disease (OR 2.9 [95% CI 1.3, 6.5]), worse RA disease activity (OR 1.1 [95% CI 1.0, 1.1]), and GC use (OR 1.6 [95% CI 1.0, 2.5]). While the incidence of medication changes was the same before and after the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) guidance for the management of rheumatic disease in adult patients during the COVID-19 pandemic were first published in April 2020, self-imposed changes in medication were approximately twice as likely before publication of the guidelines, and physician-guided changes were more likely after publication. CONCLUSION: Persons with RA in the US made substantial medication changes during the first three months of the COVID-19 pandemic, and changes among persons with RA after publication of the ACR guidance in April 2020 were made with increased physician guidance.


Subject(s)
Antirheumatic Agents/therapeutic use , Arthritis, Rheumatoid/drug therapy , COVID-19 , Drug Substitution/trends , Practice Patterns, Physicians'/trends , Risk Reduction Behavior , Aged , Antirheumatic Agents/adverse effects , Arthritis, Rheumatoid/diagnosis , Arthritis, Rheumatoid/epidemiology , Female , Glucocorticoids/therapeutic use , Guideline Adherence/trends , Health Care Surveys , Humans , Janus Kinase Inhibitors/therapeutic use , Male , Middle Aged , Practice Guidelines as Topic , Registries , Risk Assessment , Risk Factors , Time Factors , Treatment Outcome , United States/epidemiology
4.
Arthritis Rheumatol ; 73(12): 2179-2188, 2021 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1217345

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and its treatments are associated with an increased risk of infection, but it remains unclear whether these factors have an impact on the risk or severity of COVID-19. The present study was undertaken to assess the risk and severity of COVID-19 in a US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) cohort of patients with RA and those without RA. METHODS: A matched cohort study using national VA data was conducted. Patients diagnosed as having RA were identified among nondeceased individuals who were active in the VA health care system as of January 1, 2020 and who had received care in a VA medical center in 2019; patients for whom no RA diagnostic code was indicated were matched to the RA patients (1:1) by age, sex, and VA site (non-RA controls). Patients diagnosed as having COVID-19 and those with severe COVID-19 (defined as requiring hospitalization or leading to death) were ascertained from a national VA COVID-19 surveillance database through December 10, 2020. Multivariable Cox models were used to compare the risk of COVID-19 and COVID-19 hospitalization or death between RA patients and non-RA controls, after adjusting for demographic characteristics, comorbidities, health care utilization and access, and county-level COVID-19 incidence rates. RESULTS: This VA cohort of RA patients and non-RA controls (n = 33,886 subjects per group) predominantly comprised male patients (84.5%), and the mean age was 67.8 years. During follow-up, 1,503 patients in the cohort were diagnosed as having COVID-19; among them, 388 patients had severe COVID-19 (hospitalization or death), while in 228 patients, the deaths were not related to COVID-19. In the multivariable model, RA was associated with a higher risk of COVID-19 (adjusted hazard ratio [HR] 1.25 [95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.13-1.39]) and a higher risk of COVID-19 hospitalization or death (adjusted HR 1.35 [95% CI 1.10-1.66]) as compared to non-RA controls. Use of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs and prednisone, as well as self-reported Black race, self-reported Hispanic ethnicity, and presence of several chronic conditions, but not seropositivity for RA autoantibodies, were each associated with risk of COVID-19 and severe COVID-19 (hospitalization or death). CONCLUSION: Patients with RA are at higher risk of developing COVID-19 and severe COVID-19 (leading to hospitalization or death) compared to those without RA. With a risk of COVID-19 that approaches that of other recognized chronic conditions, these findings suggest that RA patients should be prioritized for COVID-19 prevention and management strategies.


Subject(s)
Arthritis, Rheumatoid/complications , COVID-19/etiology , Aged , COVID-19/epidemiology , Cohort Studies , Female , Hospitalization/statistics & numerical data , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Retrospective Studies , Risk Assessment , Severity of Illness Index , Veterans Health
5.
ACR Open Rheumatol ; 2(6): 335-343, 2020 Jun.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-601394

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: Patients with rheumatic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and lupus have increased risk of infection and are treated with medications that may increase this risk yet are also hypothesized to help treat COVID-19. We set out to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the lives of these patients in the United States. METHODS: Participants in a US-wide longitudinal observational registry responded to a supplemental COVID-19 questionnaire by e-mail on March 25, 2020, about their symptoms, COVID-19 testing, health care changes, and related experiences during the prior 2 weeks. Analysis compared responses by diagnosis, disease activity, and new onset of symptoms. Qualitative analysis was conducted on optional free-text comment fields. RESULTS: Of the 7061 participants invited to participate, 530 responded, with RA as the most frequent diagnosis (61%). Eleven participants met COVID-19 screening criteria, of whom two sought testing unsuccessfully. Six others sought testing, three of whom were successful, and all test results were negative. Not quite half of participants (42%) reported a change to their care in the prior 2 weeks. Qualitative analysis revealed four key themes: emotions in response to the pandemic, perceptions of risks from immunosuppressive medications, protective measures to reduce risk of COVID-19 infection, and disruptions in accessing rheumatic disease medications, including hydroxychloroquine. CONCLUSION: After 2 weeks, many participants with rheumatic diseases already had important changes to their health care, with many altering medications without professional consultation or because of hydroxychloroquine shortage. As evidence accumulates on the effectiveness of potential COVID-19 treatments, effort is needed to safeguard access to established treatments for rheumatic diseases.

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