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

    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