Acta Reumatológica Portuguesa
Impact of COVID-19 on disease (self) management and well-being in people with Rheumatic or Musculoskeletal diseases across four European countries: a mixed methods study
Background: Qualitative data on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the lives of people with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs) in different European countries are lacking. Objectives: To describe the impact of the first two waves of the COVID-19 pandemic on people with inflammatory RMDs concerning (self)management of their disease, interaction with the health care team, emotional well-being and overall health. Methods: A mixed-methods study of adults (>18 years) with RMDs on immunosuppression from Cyprus, England, Greece, and Portugal took part on online focus groups (FG) after the first wave (July-August, 2020). The data was transcribed verbatim and thematically analyzed. Informed by the qualitative findings, a follow-up survey was developed for the same participants after the second wave, allowing to compare the perceived impact. Results: Twenty-four patients (6 from each country; 21 women; 33-74 years range) participated. Three key themes were identified (with 3-7 subthemes each), focusing on the impact of COVID-19 on the: (i) individual, (ii) health settings, and (iii) work and community. Overall, qualitative results were similar across countries. The follow-up survey during the second wave highlighted a worsening of psychosocial aspects, e.g. sleep problems, stress, and isolation. Conclusions: People with RMDs felt vulnerable and anxious, specifically about how to cope with isolation and difficulties in communicating with healthcare providers. The second wave had a more significant impact on patients. Healthcare providers and policymakers need to consider measures to ameliorate the longer-term impact that many may still face.
Cristinano Matos, Ricardo J. O. Ferreira , Ana Maria Pinho , Cristina Costa , George E Fragoulis, Savvas Psarelis , Konstantinos Parperis, Souzi Makri , Ruth Williams , Barata A, Andréa Marques , Heidi Lempp, Elena Nikiphorou . Impact of COVID-19 on disease (self) management and well-being in people with Rheumatic or Musculoskeletal diseases across four European countries: a mixed methods study. ARP Rheumatology, Vol 2, nº3 2023:237-246. PMID: 37839032