Management of Rheumatic Diseases During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A National Veterans Affairs Survey of Rheumatologists.

Academic Article


  • OBJECTIVE: To assess the experience, views, and opinions of rheumatology providers at Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities about rheumatic disease health care issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. METHODS: We performed an anonymized cross-sectional survey, conducted from April 16 to May 18, 2020, of VA rheumatology providers. We assessed provider perspectives on COVID-19 issues and resilience. RESULTS: Of the 153 eligible VA rheumatologists, 103 (67%) completed the survey. A significant proportion of providers reported a ≥50% increase related to COVID-19 in visits by telephone (53%), video-based VA video connect (VVC; 44%), and clinical video telehealth with a facilitator (29%). A majority of the responders were somewhat or very comfortable with technology for providing health care to established patients during the COVID-19 pandemic using telephone (87%), VVC (64%), and in-person visits (54%). A smaller proportion were comfortable with technology providing health care to new patients. At least 65% of rheumatologists considered telephone visits appropriate for established patients with gout, osteoporosis, polymyalgia rheumatica, stable rheumatoid arthritis, stable spondyloarthritis, or osteoarthritis; 32% reported a rheumatology medication shortage. Adjusted for age, sex, and ethnicity, high provider resilience was associated with significantly higher odds ratios (ORs) of comfort with technology for telephone (OR 3.1 [95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.1-9.7]) and VVC visits for new patients (OR 4.7 [95% CI 1.4-15.7]). CONCLUSION: A better understanding of COVID-19 rheumatic disease health care issues using a health-system approach can better inform providers, improve provider satisfaction, and have positive effects on the care of veterans with rheumatic disease.
  • Authors

    Published In


  • Attitude of Health Personnel, Attitude to Computers, COVID-19, Cross-Sectional Studies, Female, Health Care Surveys, Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Practice Patterns, Physicians', Rheumatic Diseases, Rheumatologists, Rheumatology, Telemedicine, Time Factors, United States, United States Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Singh JA; Richards JS; Chang E; Joseph A; Ng B
  • Start Page

  • 998
  • End Page

  • 1003
  • Volume

  • 73
  • Issue

  • 7