Self-reported symptoms in a cohort of rheumatoid arthritis and lupus erythematosus during the COVID-19 quarantine period
On the first three months of the COVID-19 pandemic, a community lockdown was enforced in the Philippines and a supply shortage of hydroxychloroquine and methotrexate was experienced. This study aimed to investigate self-reported symptoms of disease flares among patients with lupus erythematosus (LE) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) during the COVID-19 pandemic. An online survey among 512 patients with either disease was conducted in the Philippines. We gathered data on sociodemographic characteristics, self-reported symptoms, health service utilization, and availability of hydroxychloroquine and methotrexate. Seventy-nine percent of respondents had lupus while 21% had RA. One-third of the cohort had consultation with their attending physician during the two-month quarantine period prior to the survey. Eighty-two percent were on hydroxychloroquine and 23.4% were on methotrexate; but 68.6% and 65% respectively of those prescribed had irregular intake of these medicines due to unavailability. The health status was reported as good by 66.2%; 24% had no symptoms during the two-week period prior to the survey. The most common symptoms experienced were joint pain (67.4%), muscle pain (46.3%), headache (35.4%), and skin rash (25.4%). Five percent had a combination of these four most common symptoms. There was higher proportion of patients with irregular supply of hydroxychloroquine with joint pains (54.9% versus 41.7%, p=0.012) and rash (24.7% versus 9.8%, p<0.001). There was no difference in symptoms between those with regular and irregular supply of methotrexate.