• Impact of COVID-19 outbreak on rheumatic patients' perceptions and behaviors: A cross-sectional study

      Hassen, Lena Mostafa; Almaghlouth, Ibrahim A; Hassen, Ikhlass Mostafa; Daghestani, Maha H; Almohisen, Amal A; Alqurtas, Eman M; Alkhalaf, Abdulaziz; Bedaiwi, Mohammed K; Omair, Mohammed A; Almogairen, Sultan M; et al. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2020-09-17)
      Aim: The dynamics of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has become of special concern to the rheumatology community. Rheumatic patients are required to engage in effective health management but their behavior is often influenced by intrinsic and extrinsic factors. This cross-sectional study aims to examine patients' experiences during the current pandemic and its implication on their health perception and behavior. Method: A patient-centered electronic survey was used, randomly sampling rheumatic patients in Saudi Arabia during March and April 2020. Questions included patients' socio-demographics, diseases, medications, COVID-19 knowledge, source of information, fear level, disease activity perception, health care utilization, medication accessibility, and therapeutic compliance (measured using a modified version of Medication Adherence Reporting Scale). Correlation and regression coefficients were used to evaluate associations among the aforementioned variables. Results: A total of 637 respondents were included. The majority were rheumatoid arthritis patients (42.7%). Patients' knowledge about COVID-19 was correlated with social media use (P = .012). Fear of COVID-19 infection correlated with healthcare facility for follow-up visits (P = .024) and fear of disease deterioration if contracting the infection correlated with patients' levels of knowledge (P = .035). Both types of fear did not correlate with patients' perceptions of disease activity. However, patients' perceptions of worsened disease activity were correlated with unplanned healthcare visits (P < .001), medication non-adherence, and difficulty accessing medication (P = .010 and .006, respectively). Conclusion: The COVID-19 pandemic and surrounding public health measures could affect rheumatic patients' health management which might contribute to disease flare-up and subsequently taxing healthcare systems even further.