Changes in Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drug Treatment for Patients With Rheumatoid Arthritis in the US During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Three-Month Observational Study

Kaleb Michaud, Sofia Pedro, Kristin Wipfler, Ekta Agarwal, Patricia Katz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: To understand medication, lifestyle, and clinical care changes of persons with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) during the first months (March 2020 through May 2020) of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US. Methods: Data were collected from adults with RA participating in FORWARD, The National Databank for Rheumatic Diseases observational registry, who answered COVID-19 web-based surveys in May 2020 and previously provided baseline characteristics and medication use prior to the US COVID-19 pandemic. We compared medication changes by disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) exposure in logistic models that were adjusted for age, sex, comorbidities including pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases, education level, health insurance status, RA disease activity, fatigue, and polysymptomatic distress. Results: Of 734 respondents, 221 (30%) reported medication changes. Among respondents who experienced a medication change, i.e., “medication changers/changers,” glucocorticoids (GCs) were more commonly used compared to respondents who did not experience a medication change (“non-changers”) (33% versus 18%). Non-hydroxychloroquine conventional DMARDs were less commonly used in changers compared to non-changers pre–COVID-19 (49% versus 62%), and changers reported more economic hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to non-changers (23% versus 15%). While JAK inhibitor use was associated with the likelihood of a medication change, with an odds ratio (OR) of 1.9 (95% confidence interval [95% CI] 1.0, 3.4), only pre-COVID GC use remained a strong predictor for medication change in multivariable models (OR 3.0 [95% CI 1.9, 4.9]). Change in care was observed to have a significant association with pulmonary disease (OR 2.9 [95% CI 1.3, 6.5]), worse RA disease activity (OR 1.1 [95% CI 1.0, 1.1]), and GC use (OR 1.6 [95% CI 1.0, 2.5]). While the incidence of medication changes was the same before and after the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) guidance for the management of rheumatic disease in adult patients during the COVID-19 pandemic were first published in April 2020, self-imposed changes in medication were approximately twice as likely before publication of the guidelines, and physician-guided changes were more likely after publication. Conclusion: Persons with RA in the US made substantial medication changes during the first three months of the COVID-19 pandemic, and changes among persons with RA after publication of the ACR guidance in April 2020 were made with increased physician guidance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1322-1331
Number of pages10
JournalArthritis Care and Research
Volume73
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology

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