Online first

Acta Reumatológica Portuguesa - Online First: 2021-03-15
Original article

Impact of the mandatory confinement during the first wave of the SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 pandemic in Portuguese patients with rheumatoid arthritis: results from the COVID in RA (COVIDRA) survey

Araújo F, Gonçalves N, Mourão F


Objective. The aim of this study was to evaluate the self-reported impact of mandatory confinement occurring in the first wave of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in Portuguese patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), as a means to improve care during this and in future pandemics. Material and methods. The web-based survey COVIDRA was developed to assess 5 domains including RA symptoms, attitudes towards medication, employment status, physical exercise and mental health. The questionnaire was sent to RA patients through e-mail and social media of the Portuguese Society of Rheumatology and two patient associations; and it was filled locally at two rheumatology centers in Lisbon. Recruitment took place during June and July 2020. Results. We obtained 441 valid questionnaires. Most respondents were female (88.4%), caucasian (93.6%) with a mean age of 58 years. The majority had disease lasting >10 years and were treated with csDMARDs (63.2%) and/or bDMARDs/tsDMARDS (23.7%). Over 40% experienced symptom worsening during confinement, almost half considered moderate or severe. Mobility restriction and increased stress, anxiety or depression were responsible for this worsening. Only 2.5% reduced or withheld their immunosuppressive medication due to fear of becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2. After confinement, 16.2% of those previously employed were in a lay-off regime and 3% lost their jobs. Most employed RA patients practiced telework during confinement. The majority of patients decreased or did not practice any physical exercise (80.5%). Symptoms of anxiety and depression developed or worsened in 67.3% and 51.9% respectively, approximately one third were considered moderate or severe. Conclusions. Portuguese RA patients experienced significant symptom worsening, anxiety and depression during the first wave confinement. Only a minority changed their immunosuppressive treatment for fear of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Published literature on these matters shows results very similar to ours.