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1202 COVID-19 pandemic stressors and psychological distress symptoms in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis
  1. Deborah Da Costa1,
  2. Eric Boilard2,
  3. Louis Flamand2,
  4. Emmanuelle Rollet-Labelle2,
  5. Jean-Benoît Deville-Stoetzel1,
  6. Louis Bessette2,
  7. Karen Adams2,
  8. Alexandra Albert2,
  9. Marie-Claude Audet2,
  10. Sonia Lagacé2,
  11. Charlotte Grondin2,
  12. Philippe Desaulniers2 and
  13. Paul R Fortin2
  1. 1Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, Quebec, Canada
  2. 2Centre de Recherche du CHU de Québec – Université Laval, Québec, Canada


Background The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) global pandemic is a highly stressful event that may contribute to psychological symptoms, particularly in patients with pre-existing chronic conditions. This study examined COVID-19 pandemic related stress experienced by patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) or rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and its association with symptoms of psychological distress.

Methods An on-line cross-sectional survey study was conducted with 55 SLE (mean age = 54.8, ±13.8) and 42 RA (mean age = 64.2, ±12.2) patients recruited from a tertiary care centre in Quebec City between May 25, 2021 and June 13, 2021. Participants completed the COVID-19 Stressors Questionnaire adapted by our team for inflammatory arthritis. The Impact of Event Scale-Revised (IES-R) assessed post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Patient Health Questionnaire-8 (PHQ-8) and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7) measured symptoms of depression and anxiety, respectively.

Results Among respondents 3/97 had been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic (SLE=2, RA=1). Clinically significant PTSS (IES-R score ≥24) due to the COVID-19 pandemic was reported by 13.4% of participants, with no statistically significant difference between both disease groups (SLE = 16.4%; RA=9.5%). The degree of concern related to COVID-19 stressors were similar in both disease groups (SLE: M = 10.0 ±8.2; RA: M = 8.7 ±9.5). As shown in table 1, COVID-19 stressors that were associated with the highest degree of concerns were: having a loved one contract coronavirus (SLE 50.9%; RA 28.6%), the possibility of contracting (SLE 45.5%; RA 35.7%) or getting sick from coronavirus (SLE 40%; RA 21.4%), working in a place with high likelihood of exposure (SLE 30.9%; RA 21.4%), and the possibility of their disease worsening or being poorly managed due to changes in medical care (SLE 27.3%; RA 26.2%). In patients with SLE, a higher level of concern related to COVID-19 stressors was significantly correlated with greater symptoms of PTSS (r = 0.46, p < 0.001), depression (r = 0.46, p < 0.001) and anxiety (r = 0.62, p < 0.001). In patients with RA, a higher level of concerns related to COVID-19 stressors was significantly correlated with greater symptoms of PTSS (r = 0.33, p -0.036), but not with symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Abstract 1202 Table 1

Degree of Concerns related to COVID-19 Stressors for Patients with SLE or RA

Conclusions Stressors related to the COVID-19 pandemic are experienced by an important proportion of patients with SLE and RA and are associated with psychological symptoms, particularly for patients with SLE.

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

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