OBJECTIVE: To determine health perceptions of patients with rheumatic diseases in the early phase of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
METHODS: Rheumatology patients at a single center received via text message the Australian Rheumatology Association COVID-19 information sheet and an invitation to participate in a deidentified survey. Patient concerns regarding risks conferred by their rheumatologic disease or medications, impact of receiving the information sheet on the likelihood of staying on medication, and acceptance of telehealth were ascertained.
RESULTS: A total of 2,630 patients received the text message, and the survey response rate was 21% (n = 550). The mean ± SD age of the participants was 52 ± 15.2 years, and 75.3% were female. Participants' highest ranked concern was that their medications would increase the severity of their COVID-19 symptoms (76.1%). The highest levels of concern were seen in patients taking combination conventional synthetic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and/or a biologic/targeted synthetic DMARD. There was no association between prednisolone dose and concern. While 63% of patients planned to continue their antirheumatic medications, a further 30% were more likely to continue taking their medications because of receiving the information. Telehealth was acceptable to 98.4% of patients, but 28.1% felt this was only appropriate while infection control measures were in place.
CONCLUSION: Concerns regarding the risk of COVID-19 among patients taking antirheumatic drugs are common. Proactive dissemination of information is needed to address misconceptions related to medication risk, improve medication adherence, and minimize the risk of flares. Telehealth is acceptable to most patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Antirheumatic Agents/adverse effects
- Attitude to Health
- Coronavirus Infections/prevention & control
- Medication Adherence
- Middle Aged
- Pandemics/prevention & control
- Patient Acceptance of Health Care/psychology
- Pneumonia, Viral/prevention & control
- Rheumatic Diseases/drug therapy
- Severity of Illness Index
- Surveys and Questionnaires