Impact of Covid-19 on clinical care and lived experience of systemic sclerosis: An international survey from EURORDIS-Rare Diseases Europe

Michael Hughes, John D. Pauling, Andrew Moore, Jennifer Jones

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Introduction: Outcomes related to Covid-19 in systemic sclerosis patients could be influenced by internal organ involvement and/or immunosuppressive treatment, leading to efforts to shield patients from Covid-19 transmission. We examined the impact of Covid-19 on the lived experience of systemic sclerosis with regards to other aspects of daily living including occupation and emotional well-being. Method: Individuals with systemic sclerosis or relatives/carers participated in an online survey, disseminated through international patient associations and social media pages, designed to examine the impact of Covid-19 on living with a rare disease. Results: Responses from 121 individuals (98% were patients with systemic sclerosis) from 14 countries were evaluable. Covid-19 was considered a probable/definite personal threat (93%) or threat for the individual they care for (100%). Approximately two-thirds of responders reported either cancellation or postponement/delay to appointments, diagnostic tests, medical therapies at home (e.g. infusions), surgery or transplant, psychiatry follow-up or rehabilitation services. Twenty-six percent reported at least one systemic sclerosis medicine/treatment had been unavailable, and 6% had to either stop taking usual medications or use an alternative. Most reported online consultations/telemedicine via phone (88%) and online (96%) as being ‘fairly’ or ‘very’ useful. Respondents reported tensions among family members (45%) and difficulty overcoming problems (48%). Restrictions on movement left around two-thirds feeling isolated (61%), unhappy and/or depressed (64%), although the majority (85%) reported a strengthening of the family unit. Conclusion: Covid-19 has resulted in significant impact on the clinical-care and emotional well-being of systemic sclerosis patients. Changes to clinical care delivery have been well-received by patients including telemedicine consultations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-138
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Scleroderma and Related Disorders
Issue number2
Early online date16 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021


  • clinical-care
  • Covid-19
  • emotional well-being
  • scleroderma
  • Systemic sclerosis
  • telemedicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology


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