Research Mentor(s): Beth Wallace, MD, MSc
Research Mentor School/College/Department: Internal Medicine/Rheumatology, Michigan Medicine
Presentation Date: Thursday, April 22, 2021
Session: Session 1 (10am-10:50am)
Breakout Room: Room 13
Despite the fact that Covid-19 is known to be more severe in patients with other comorbidities, the experiences of people with rheumatic illnesses during the pandemic are seldom discussed. In reality, their experiences are important to understanding both the virus’ physical and emotional effects on at-risk populations. Specific questions were in regards to the main sources of anxiety and uncertainty felt by rheumatic patients, and how many felt impacts to mental health. Using Nvivo analysis software, our research team qualitatively coded deidentified patient transcripts and case reports from FORWARD, the National Databank for Rheumatic Diseases. The software allowed us to compare the data presented in order to find common issues between patient experiences. These comparisons revealed that many of the patients, whether diagnosed or not with Covid-19, felt great anxiety and uncertainty during the pandemic. Further analysis showed that these feelings came from deaths of friends or family members, worsened symptoms in conjunction with their illness, or general lack of knowledge of the effects the virus could have. Although each patient as an individual had their own experiences, the qualitative coding allowed us to find that uncertainty was a major issue that still affects the mental well-being of these patients, their family members, and their friends. This project will allow health care providers and other stakeholders to understand the rheumatic patient experience with viruses from an emotional level, as well as a physiological one.