Experiences of side effects due to COVID-19 vaccination among rheumatic disease patients: a qualitative analysis. – UROP Summer Symposium 2021

Experiences of side effects due to COVID-19 vaccination among rheumatic disease patients: a qualitative analysis.

Nina Nguyen

Nina Nguyen

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

UROP Fellowship: Biomedical and Life Sciences
Research Mentor(s): Beth Wallace, MD, MSc
Research Mentor Institution/Department: Michigan Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine – Rheumatology

Presentation Date: Wednesday, August 4th
Session: Session 1 (3pm-3:50pm EDT)
Breakout Room: Room 2
Presenter: 7

Event Link


“Background: Although rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs) are fairly common, individuals with RMDs were not included in the randomized control trials for COVID-19 vaccines, resulting in a lack of knowledge about the possible side effects they may face. Side effects may play a role in whether or not members of this population want to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and may highlight differences in vaccine response between these individuals and the general population. We aimed to describe patients’ self-reported experiences of side effects and other treatment burdens related to COVID-19 vaccination.

Methods: Between March 2021 and June 2021, monthly surveys regarding the COVID-19 vaccination were administered to patients with RMDs in the FORWARD registry. Survey participants had two opportunities to leave comments: one for general comments and the other for unlisted side effects. Using these surveys, a qualitative analysis was conducted on the free text comments left by survey participants. Three authors coded the data using Microsoft Excel and all discrepancies were resolved. A thematic analysis was performed by analyzing all comments coded as related to side effects or vaccine-associated treatment burden.

Results: Of the 14,704 invited FORWARD participants, 4,265 completed the questionnaire, 1,168 left general comments, and 384 left comments describing an unlisted side effect. Out of 710 relevant comments, 511 comments pertained to vaccine side effects. Respondents reported side effects related to: flares of rheumatic diseases, COVID-19 arm, side effects common in the general population, and side effects uncommon in the general population. Many other comments described issues pertaining to treatment burden, such as having to reschedule infusions and pause medication intake.

Conclusion: Flares of rheumatic diseases and COVID-19 arm were the most common side effects listed in the comments. Further research is needed to determine if reports of RMD flares are caused by the vaccine itself, or are related to differences in medication management.”

Authors: Nina Nguyen, Sara A. Hustek, Makenzie P. Starlin, Kristin Wipfler, Kaleb Michaud, Beth I. Wallace, Yomei Shaw
Research Method: Survey Research

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