Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has caused lockdown, reduced access to face-to-face consultations, anxiety about taking immunosuppressive agents and self-isolation1 which potentially impact rheumatic disease control negatively. However, changes in behavior including self-protection strategies during the ongoing pandemic and impact on rheumatic disease activity have only been scarcely described.
The first COVID-19 wave hit Denmark in March 2020 followed by a gradual re-opening from mid-April and the second surge began in the late autumn of 2020.
Objectives: To describe changes over time in self-protection strategies and health behavior during the first 8 months of the COVID-19 pandemic and to explore impact on self-reported disease activity and quality of life (=patient reported outcomes, PROs) in patients with inflammatory rheumatic disease (IRD) in DANBIO.
Methods: Patients were invited to answer two on-line questionnaires regarding current behavior and disease specific PROs: One in June 2020 (including also questions regarding behavior in March 2020), and one in November 2020. Responses were linked to PROs collected as part of routine care before March 2020 (=Before) in DANBIO. For each PRO, changes (=delta values) between the two timepoints were calculated in individual patients.
Results: Overall, 7,836 patients (22% of eligible patients) answered both questionnaires and were included (rheumatoid arthritis(RA): 5270(67%), psoriatic arthritis(PsA): 1217(15%), axial spondyloarthritis(AxSpA): 932(12%), other IRD: 417(5%). Patients reported highest levels of anxiety and self-protection in March with an improvement in June that was largely unchanged in November (Figure 1), e.g. proportions staying at home avoiding others as much as possible (completely or mostly agree) were 87%/49%/51% in March/June/November, respectively (Figure 1, Panel C).
Disease activity and proportions of patients reporting acceptable symptom state remained stable at the three time points (Table 1), with all median delta values being close to zero (not shown).
Conclusion: In this large cohort of patients with inflammatory rheumatic diseases followed in the nationwide DANBIO registry, COVID-19 related self-protection strategies were highest in March 2020, but more than half of the patients also reported self-isolation in June and November. We found no negative impact of the pandemic on patient-reported outcomes, which remained largely unchanged and were similar to before the pandemic. The latter finding probably reflects that few patients reduced or withdrew from treatment due to fear of COVID-19.1
References: Glintborg et al, 2021, https://rmdopen.bmj.com/content/rmdopen/7/1/e001505.full.pdf
Disclosure of Interests: Bente Glintborg Grant/research support from: AbbVie, BMS, Pfizer, Dorte Vendelbo Jensen: None declared, Sara Engel: None declared, Lene Terslev Speakers bureau: AbbVie, Janssen, Roche, Novartis, Pfizer, MSD, BMS and GE, Mogens Pfeiffer Jensen: None declared, Oliver Hendricks Grant/research support from: AbbVie, Novartis, Pfizer, Mikkel Østergaard Speakers bureau: Abbvie, BMS, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Celgene, Eli-Lilly, Hospira, Janssen, Merck, Novartis, Novo, Orion, Pfizer, Regeneron, Roche, Sandoz, Sanofi and UCB., Grant/research support from: Research grants: Abbvie, BMS, Celgene, Merck, Novartis, Simon Horskjær Rasmussen: None declared, Thomas Adelsten: None declared, Kamilla Danebod: None declared, Ada Colic: None declared, Malene Kildemand: None declared, Anne Gitte Loft Speakers bureau: AbbVie, Eli-Lilly, Janssen, MSD, Novartis, Pfizer, and UCB, Heidi Lausten Munk: None declared, Jens Kristian Pedersen: None declared, René Østgård Speakers bureau: Abbvie, BMS, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Eli-Lilly, Janssen, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, Roche, Sanofi and UCB., Grant/research support from: Research grants: Abbvie, Christian Møller Sørensen: None declared, Niels Steen Krogh: None declared, Jette Nørgaard Agerbo: None declared, Connie Ziegler: None declared, Merete L. Hetland Grant/research support from:: AbbVie, Biogen, BMS, Celtrion, Eli Lilly Denmark A/S, Janssen Biologics B.V, Lundbeck Fonden, MSD, Pfizer, Roche, Samsung Biopis, Sandoz. MLH chairs the steering committee of the Danish Rheumatology Quality Registry (DANBIO), which receives public funding from the hospital owners and funding from pharmaceutical companies. MLH co-chairs the EuroSpA research collaboration, which generates real-world evidence of treatment of psoriatic arthritis and axial spondylorthritis based on secondary data and is partly funded by Novartis.
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