The psychological state and changes in the routine of the patients with rheumatic diseases during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Turkey: a web-based cross-sectional survey
We hypothesized that patients with rheumatic diseases (RD) would have increased psychological distress during the COVID-19 outbreak; therefore, assessed their psychological symptoms and changes in their routine. A web-based questionnaire survey was conducted in a cross-sectional design in three groups of participants: (1.) patients with RD, (2.) hospital workers, and (3.) high-school teachers/academic staff. Psychiatric status was evaluated using Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and Impact of Event Scale-Revised scale. Overall response rate was 34.7%. We studied 771 patients with RD, 535 hospital workers, and 917 teachers/academic staff. Most of the patients with RD were unwilling to go to the hospital (86%), while 22% discontinued their medications. Biological DMARDS were the most frequent drugs whose doses were altered. Only 4% were willing to take hydroxychloroquine for protection. Moreover, the frequency of anxiety (20%), depression (43%), and post-traumatic stress (28%) among patients with RD were found to be comparable to that found among the teachers/academic staff (23%, 43% and 29%, respectively), whereas significantly less than that observed among the hospital workers (40%, 62%, and 46%, respectively) (p < 0.001). Female gender, use of social media, having a comorbid disease, or a psychiatric disorder were found to be independently associated with psychiatric symptoms in total study population. The majority of the patients were unwilling to attend outpatient visits and one-fifth skipped or stopped their immunosuppressive agents. Psychiatric symptoms in patient's and teacher's populations were of considerable clinical concern, despite being significantly lower than that observed among the hospital workers.