Background: Inflammatory arthritis (IA) patients have been identified as at greater risk of severe illness from COVID-19. It is likely that lockdown restrictions (enforced by the UK government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic) and subsequent changes made to healthcare provision could impact patients’ abilities to effectively manage their condition. The aim of this study was to qualitatively explore the impact of COVID-19 on self-management behaviours and healthcare access for people with IA. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 21 IA patients in June-July 2020, with nine follow-up interviews in November 2020. Interview schedules were developed with a Patient Research Partner and explored participants’ experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Interviews were conducted via telephone and analysed using inductive thematic analysis. Results: Participants were aged between 24 and 79 years (mean = 50.1, SD = 15.8), largely female (71%) and White British (86%). Four initial themes were identified: (1) Impact of COVID-19 on medication adherence, (2) Impact of COVID-19 on physical activity, (3) Impact of COVID-19 on diet, and (4) Impact of COVID-19 on healthcare access and delivery. Subthemes focused on positive and negative changes made to these areas, as well as behaviours which remained consistent. Follow-up interviews highlighted differences in participants’ experiences during the two lockdown periods. Conclusion: COVID-19 has affected patients’ abilities to manage their IA. Healthcare professionals need to recognise the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on patient self-management and healthcare access to ensure that adequate understanding and support is available to patients who may have inadequate disease control as a result.
- Healthcare access
- Inflammatory arthritis