Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on rheumatoid arthritis from a Multi-Centre patient-reported questionnaire survey: influence of gender, rural-urban gap and north-south gradient.

Citation:
Alfadl, E. A., F. Ismail, R. E. R. Shereef, E. Hassan, S. Tharwat, E. F. Mohamed, E. A. Abda, A. R. Radwan, R. M. Fawzy, A. H. Moshrif, et al., "Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on rheumatoid arthritis from a Multi-Centre patient-reported questionnaire survey: influence of gender, rural-urban gap and north-south gradient.", Rheumatology international, vol. 41, issue 2, pp. 345-353, 2021.

Abstract:

During the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic there were several barriers to treatment access and medication adherence in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients. There is no information regarding the RA patient health status in Egypt during the COVID-19. Thus,the aim of this work was to study the impact of the pandemic on RA patients through a patient-reported questionnaire and to determine the influence of gender, geographic regions. This multi-centre study initiated by the Egyptian College of Rheumatology (ECR) was conducted on 1037 RA patients attending rheumatology clinics from 10 governorates. The questionnaire provided covered socio-demographic data, health/disease status, information/knowledge about COVID-19 and medical/family history of the infection. Patients mean age was 44.2 ± 12.3 years;855 females and 182 males; 539(52%) from rural and 497(48%) from urban areas. 41.8% reported a striking difficulty to obtain hydroxychloroquine during the pandemic. The majority (70%) considered maintaining a regular visit to the rheumatologist in addition to remote contact mainly by phone (44.4%) or via WhatsApp (33.1%), in particular among male and urban patients. Urban patients were more likely to be infected by COVID-19 (12.9% vs 6.2%; p < 0.0001) than rural. Northern cities had more patients with suspected COVID-19 (13.9% vs 6.1%; p < 0.0001); was significantly associated with more disease flares (30.8% vs 5.8%) with subsequent change in the RA treatment (20.9% vs 6.4%; p < 0.0001). Patients with RA faced remarkable difficulty to obtain their medications with subsequent change in their disease status. The challenges of the pandemic have hastened changes in the way we deliver health care.