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Rheumatology patients report 'substantial' treatment changes during height of COVID-19

Healio Rheumatology reports on the findings of an HSS study published in Arthritis Care & Research by Carol A. Mancuso, MD, FACP, general internist and epidemiologist and colleagues, which found the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York caused “substantial” medication changes for rheumatology patients in order to minimize infection risk and potential harm.

To examine patient perspectives, Dr. Mancuso and colleagues recruited and interviewed 112 patients of 13 rheumatologists at HSS. Enrollment began April 2 and ended April 21. All participants had been diagnosed by a physician with a rheumatic disease — 30% with lupus, 26% with rheumatoid arthritis and 44% with various other conditions — and prescribed disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). Interviews were conducted via telephone and included open-ended questions regarding the impact of COVID-19 on their medications. The researchers used content and thematic analyses to organize responses into categories that described patterns of medication changes.

Patterns that emerged from the interviews included the increased or decreased risk for COVID-19 infection, the use of hydroxychloroquine, maintaining treatment status quo, the role of glucocorticoids, increasing or decreasing existing medications in relation to clinical disease activity, postponing infusions, and developing a treatment plan in the event of COVID-19 infection. Among the medication changes reported by patients, some were “suboptimal” for disease control, Mancuso and colleagues wrote. However, these changes were made to limit the risk for infection and to minimize the potential harm due to physicians being unable to obtain laboratory tests and face-to-face physical examinations.

Read the full article at Healio.com/news/rheumatology.