The COVID-19 pandemic has raised worry and anxiety in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) sufferers, and psychological stress increases disease activity. For a study, researchers sought to ascertain if stress experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic directly affected the patient’s reported RA disease activity.

The COVID-19 RA survey research was cross-sectional in nature. Patients at the University of California, Los Angeles’ rheumatology clinic received emails in July and November 2020 with a link to a survey. The 30-question survey covered demographics, RA disease activity, and stress linked to COVID-19. An anti-cyclic citrullinated antibody, rheumatoid factor, and age were taken from the respondents’ electronic health records. Analysis was done to determine the relationship between the Routine Assessment of Patient Index Data 3 (RAPID3) and the 4-item Perceived Stress Scale (PSS-4) and other COVID-19-related stress measures.

The email survey was completed by 1,138 individuals (a response rate of 22.6%). There were substantial increases in PSS-4 and other stress-related indicators when responses were compared among RAPID3 categories (near remission, low, moderate, and severe illness severity). When additional confounding variables were considered, multiple linear regression models revealed that PSS-4, financial stress, age, seropositivity, illness duration, and Black race were all independently linked with decreased RAPID3 scores.

According to the study, stress generally had a detrimental influence on RAPID3, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, RAPID3 scores were higher in RA patients of color. RA sufferers experienced stress/anxiety despite enormous efforts to battle the epidemic, and strategies to lessen the psychological consequences were required.