Sunday, February 28, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected people with rheumatic diseases in Europe


First entry: Monday, 22 February 2021, 13:12

Nearly half of people with rheumatic diseases in Europe say their health has deteriorated during the pandemic.

People with rheumatic diseases have experienced restrictions on access to health care, and restrictions on their movement have led to the adoption of unhealthy lifestyle habits.

European health systems need to be strengthened to ensure quality in the management of people with chronic pandemic diseases.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put unprecedented pressure on European health systems, which is why people with rheumatic diseases have experienced a negative impact on their health. 46.6% have stated that their health has deteriorated since the beginning of the pandemic, 57% were at risk of developing anxiety disorders and 45.9% were suffering from depression. In addition, many reported increased smoking and alcohol consumption, as well as weight gain.

These are the results of the REUMAVID study, an online survey of 1,800 patients from seven European patient associations from as many countries. The Hellenic Anti-Rheumatism Society (EL.AN.A.) participated from our country.

More than half of the people who took part in the research were forced to cancel the scheduled appointment with their rheumatologist, while 1/3 of them were not given an alternative date.

Restrictive measures and confinement have made it difficult for patients to pursue complementary therapies, which are important for their health. Almost half of the people who exercised stopped it during the lockdown, and more than half stopped their psychological or psychiatric treatment.

The purpose of REUMAVID research is to raise awareness about the effects on the health and quality of life of patients, the timely management of rheumatic diseases during the pandemic and to strengthen their further management as the pandemic develops. The effects of the pandemic can not only be measured by the incidence of COVID-19, but also by the number of people whose health is neglected due to limited resources to treat both problems. There is an urgent need to strengthen European health systems to ensure the quality of health care for vulnerable groups, said Ms. Kaiti Antonopoulou, who represents EL.EAN.A. in the working group for research.

It is necessary for the patient to feel safe and to have guaranteed quality health care in crisis situations, ensuring optimal care and well-being. The results of REUMAVID are aimed at strengthening the information on how important it is to continue the existence of medical appointments and complementary therapies
to people with rheumatic diseases, and at the same time providing reliable information about the ways in which the pandemic can affect themselves and their treatments.

About REUMAVID

REUMAVID is a study that aims to assess the effects of pandemic and inclusion on the health of European rheumatologists. It is an international collaboration led by the University of Seville Health and Territory Research in collaboration with 14 European patient associations and with the support of Novartis. So far 1800 people from 7 European countries (Cyprus, Greece, France, Italy, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom) have participated in the first phase of the study. The research will continue as the pandemic develops, in order to hear the voice of people with rheumatic diseases, to inform the public about their state of health and to strengthen health policy during the crisis.



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