Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on patients with rheumatic diseases in Latin America
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The objective of our study was to describe knowledge, attitudes and practices of Latin-American rheumatology patients regarding management and follow-up of their disease during COVID-19 pandemic. A cross-sectional observational study was conducted using a digital anonymous survey. Rheumatic patients ≥ 18 years from non-English-speaking PANLAR countries were included. Our survey included 3502 rheumatic patients living in more than 19 Latin-American countries. Median age of patients was 45.8(36-55) years and the majority (88.9%) was female. Most frequently self-reported disease was rheumatoid arthritis (48.4%). At least one anti-rheumatic treatment was suspended by 23.4% of patients. Fear of contracting SARS-Cov2 (27.7%) and economic issues (25%) were the most common reasons for drug discontinuation. Self-rated disease activity increased from 30 (7-50) to 45 (10-70) points during the pandemic. Communication with their rheumatologist during the pandemic was required by 55.6% of patients, mainly by telephone calls (50.2%) and social network messages (47.8%). An adequate knowledge about COVID-19 was observed in 43% of patients. Patients with rheumatic diseases in Latin America were negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. An increase in self-rated disease activity, a reduction in medication adherence, and hurdles for medical follow-up were reported. Teleconsultation was perceived as a valid alternative to in-person visits during the pandemic.
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