Impact of Covid-19 on clinical care and lived experience of systemic sclerosis: An international survey from EURORDIS Rare Diseases Europe

Michael Hughes*, John D Pauling, Andrew Moore, Jennifer Jones

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
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Introduction: Outcomes related to Covid-19 in systemic sclerosis (SSc) patients could be influenced by internal organ involvement and/or immunosuppressive treatment, leading to efforts to shield patients from Covid-19 transmission. We examined the impact of Covid-19 on the lived experience of SSc with regards to other aspects of daily living including occupation and emotional well-being.

Method: Individuals with SSc or relatives/carers participated in an online survey, disseminated through international patient associations and social media pages, designed to examine the impact of Covid-19 on living with a rare disease.

Results: Responses from 121 individuals (98% patients) from 14 countries were evaluable. Covid-19 was considered a probable/definite personal threat (93%) or threat for the individual they care for (100%). Approximately two-thirds of responders reported either cancellation or postponement/delay to appointments, diagnostic tests, medical therapies at home (e.g. infusions), surgery or transplant, psychiatry follow-up, or rehabilitation services. Twenty-six per cent reported at least one SSc medicine/treatment had been unavailable, and 6% had to either stop
taking usual medications or use an alternative. Most reported online consultations/telemedicine via phone (88%) and online (96%) as being ‘fairly’ or ‘very’ useful. Respondents reported tensions amongst family members (45%) and difficulty overcoming problems (48%). Restrictions on movement left around two-thirds feeling isolated (61%), unhappy and/or depressed (64%), although the majority (85%) reported a strengthening of the family unit.

Conclusions: Covid-19 has resulted in significant impact on the clinical care and emotional well-being of SSc patients. Changes to clinical care delivery have been well-received by patients including telemedicine consultations.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Scleroderma and Related Disorders
Early online date16 Mar 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.

Structured keywords

  • Covid19


  • systemic sclerosis
  • scleroderma
  • COVID-19
  • clinical-care
  • emotional well-being
  • telemedicine


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