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The impact of COVID-19 on the lives of people living with rheumatic conditions

The COVID-19 pandemic has put unprecedented pressure on Europe’s healthcare systems. As a consequence, people with rheumatic conditions have experienced a negative impact on their health: 47% reported that their state of health had worsened since the beginning of the pandemic. Furthermore, 57% were at risk of anxiety, and 46% of depression according to the REUMAIVD study. In addition, many reported increased smoking and alcohol consumption, along with weight gain.

The initial results from the REUMAVID research, which surveyed 1,800 people with rheumatic conditions in seven European countries during COVID-19, shows that more than half had to cancel their regular rheumatology appointment, with one third given no alternative. Findings from the survey include:

  • Nearly half of people with rheumatic conditions across Europe declared that their general health had worsened during the pandemic
  • People with rheumatic conditions faced restrictions in accessing healthcare, with lockdown leading to harmful lifestyle habits
  • European healthcare systems must be able to ensure delivery of service during periods of crisis

Lockdowns and other restrictions put in place have made it difficult for people with rheumatic conditions to access a range of therapies that are essential for their health. Nearly half of the people who took physical exercise stopped doing so during lockdown or because they needed to shield, and more than half had mental health support paused.

The impact of the pandemic can not only be measured by the number of COVID-19 cases, but also by the number of people whose healthcare is neglected due to limited resources to deal with both problems. There is an urgent need to strengthen European health systems to ensure the quality of healthcare for the most vulnerable groups.

The results of the REUMAVID study are shared to raise awareness of the importance of continuity of medical appointments and complementary therapies in patients with rheumatic conditions and at the same time provide them with accurate and reliable information on how the pandemic may affect them and their treatments.

Read the full results here.

Thank you to all of our members and followers who took part in the first study. Part Two of the REUMAVID study is now open. Raise your voice to help shape better outcomes for people with rheumatic conditions after the pandemic. 

About REUMAVID

REUMAVID is a study aiming to assess the health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown on the health of people with rheumatic conditions in Europe. It is an international collaboration led by the Health & Territory Research (HTR) of the Universidad the Sevilla in collaboration with 14 patient organizations across Europe, with the support of Novartis. So far, 1,800 people from seven European countries (Cyprus, Greece, France, Italy, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom) have participated in the first phase of the project. Further research and challenges will be met as the pandemic develops, in order to make the voice of people with rheumatic diseases be heard, raise awareness on their situation and support health policy during the crisis.