The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a paradigm shift in the way primary care operates and patients with non-COVID related symptoms are managed. Almost all patients are managed remotely. Routes to refer patients routinely for specialist care have been paused. This study aims to use primary care electronic healthcare records to explore changing trends in the prevalence and incidence of consultations for rheumatic musculoskeletal disorders (RMDs), prescribing of analgesia, and the incidence and time to diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and juvenile idiopathic arthropathy (JIA) in the pre- peri- and post- pandemic periods.
Project LeadV Welsh
The study objective is to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on patients experiencing RMDs including changes in consultation patterns, analgesic prescribing and timely referral for new presentations of inflammatory RMDs.
This work is essential to investigate the indirect impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the care of patients with RMDs. Identifying trends in consultation, analgesic prescribing, and diagnosis of inflammatory RMDs will provide evidence to underpin future pandemic planning to enable access to non-pharmacological management options and to ensure those with inflammatory RMDs are identified and referred to specialist care in a timely manner in order to maximize long term outcomes.