Infectious Disease

Almost 30% of people with rheumatic diseases experienced a job change at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic

August 03, 2021

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Disclosure:
The researchers report funding from the American College of Rheumatology. Hausmann reports grants from the Childhood Arthritis and Rheumatology Research Alliance (CARRA) and the Rheumatology Research Alliance, as well as personal honoraria from Novartis, Pfizer, and Biogen. Please refer to the study for all relevant financial information from the other authors.

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About 27% of patients with rheumatic disease experienced a change in employment status in the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to survey results published in The Lancet Rheumatology.

“People with rheumatic diseases have an increased risk of infection due to dysregulation of the immune system and the use of immunosuppressive drugs“, Jonathan S. Hausmann, MD, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and colleagues. “At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, little was known to influence discussions about the risks of COVID-19 in people with these rheumatic diseases. As a result, people with rheumatic diseases faced major challenges deciding how to change their behavior to reduce their risk of infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Almost 30% of patients with rheumatic disease experienced a change in employment status in the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to survey results. Data derived from Hausmann JS, et al. Lancet Rheumatol. 2021; doi: 10.1016 / S2665-9913 (21) 00175-2.

“These challenges also had a major impact on employment and education, and consequently access to health insurance and the ability to benefit from health care,” they added. “Understanding the impact of the pandemic on people with rheumatic diseases could help rheumatologists better address the needs of their patients and develop guidelines to protect this potentially vulnerable population.”

To examine how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected patients with rheumatic diseases around the world, Hausmann and colleagues, in collaboration with the American College of Rheumatology and its COVID-19 Global Rheumatology Alliance, created a survey. The COVID-19 Global Rheumatology Alliance Survey was developed with the help of key stakeholders and has been administered to adults with inflammatory or autoimmune rheumatic diseases around the world through social media, websites, and patient support organizations.

Jonathan S. Hausmann

The questions covered demographics, rheumatic diagnosis, COVID-19 diagnosis, assumption of protective behavior against coronavirus infection, access to medication and changes, access to health care and communication with rheumatologists, and changes in employment or school status. Between April 3, 2020 and May 8, 2020, a total of 12,117 participants responded to the survey. Of these respondents, 10,407 gave the corresponding age information. The researchers included data from participants with and without COVID-19, but excluded those who only reported non-inflammatory rheumatic diseases.

Overall, the researchers included full responses from 9,300 respondents in their analysis, of whom 90.1% were women, 9.6% men, and 0.3% were non-binary. In addition, 67.5% of the participants included said they were white, while 16.8% identified as Latin American, 2.1% identified as Black, 2% identified as Asian, and 0.5% identified as Indian, Aboriginal or First Nation became. The most common rheumatic diagnoses were rheumatoid arthritis with 39.1%; systematic lupus erythematosus in 31%; and Sjogren’s syndrome in 13.9%.

According to the researchers, 82% of respondents included had continued their anti-rheumatic medication as prescribed, while 99.7% said they had followed suggested protective measures to prevent or limit the spread of COVID-19. A total of 2,524 respondents or 27.1% indicated a change in their employment status. Overall, the number of respondents who said they worked full-time fell by 13.6% from 4,066 to 3,514.

“It is necessary to understand the early behavior of people with inflammatory and autoimmune diseases in order to assess the impact of the pandemic on this population, and not just those who have contracted SARS-CoV-2,” wrote Hausmann and Colleagues. “A far-reaching consequence of the pandemic at the time the data was collected was the abrupt change to gainful employment and many people with rheumatic diseases were confronted with delayed or reduced income. Our study is unique in the field of rheumatology and illustrates the direction and extent of employment change from January 1, 2020 to May 8, 2020. ”

“Further work should address the impact of changes in employment status on access to health care, the affordability of medicines, mental health and the activity of rheumatic diseases,” they added. “Given an improved understanding of COVID-19 and the existence of patient recommendations from professional organizations, future studies should address changes in behavior, perceptions and concerns in this population, including COVID-19 vaccination, COVID-19 consequences and long-term effects.” the pandemic on patient outcomes. “

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COVID-19 and rheumatology

COVID-19 and rheumatology

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