OBJECTIVES: To explore the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on treat-to-target strategies (disease activity, remission rates) and access to physical consultations in patients with inflammatory rheumatic disease, as well as to explore characteristics of patients with/without physical consultations in the clinic and the impact of early vs established disease.
METHODS: Patients with RA, PsA or axial SpA (axSpA) prospectively followed in the nationwide DANBIO registry answered online questionnaires and reported patient-reported outcomes (PROs) in June and November 2020. Patient characteristics, disease activity and physical consultations in the clinic before and during the pandemic were identified in DANBIO [all patients and subgroups with early disease (disease duration ≤2 years)]. In individual patients, changes in PROs before and during the pandemic were calculated. Characteristics of patients with/without physical consultations were described (age, gender, education level, comorbidities, disease duration, treatment).
RESULTS: We included 7836 patients (22% of eligible patients), 12% of which had early disease. PROs were stable before and during the pandemic, with median changes approximating zero, as well as in patients with early disease. Remission rates were stable. The relative decrease in the number of patients with physical consultations was 21-72%, which was highest in axSpA. Characteristics of patients with/without physical consultations were similar. Self-reported satisfaction with treatment options and access was >70%; the preferred contact form was physical consultation (66%).
CONCLUSION: In this nationwide study performed during the first 8 months of the pandemic, patient satisfaction was high and the PROs and remission rates remained stable despite the remarkable reduction in physical consultations, as well as in patients with early disease. Characteristics of patients with/without physical consultations appeared similar.