ACTRIMS Forum

ACTRIMS Forum

Source:

Ben-Zacharia A, et al. Abstract 189. Presented at: ACTRIMS Forum; Feb. 25-27, 2020 (virtual meeting).

Disclosures: Healio Neurology could not confirm relevant financial disclosures for Ben-Zacharia at the time of publication.
February 26, 2021
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Patients with MS report increased awareness of COVID-19

Source:

Ben-Zacharia A, et al. Abstract 189. Presented at: ACTRIMS Forum; Feb. 25-27, 2020 (virtual meeting).

Disclosures: Healio Neurology could not confirm relevant financial disclosures for Ben-Zacharia at the time of publication.
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Patients with MS, healthy controls and health care providers demonstrated increased awareness about the risk for COVID-19 infection, according to results from a cross-sectional survey presented at the ACTRIMS virtual meeting.

Most respondents also inquired about additional strategies for prevention and treatment and preferred to receive information from health care providers.

“COVID-19 can cause mild to severe illness and most severe illness occurs in adults 65 years and older and people with serious underlying medical problems,” the researchers wrote. “Knowledge, attitudes and practices of COVID-19 have a direct impact on prevention and mitigation of the spread of the virus.”

Aliza Bitton Ben-Zacharia

Aliza Bitton Ben-Zacharia, PhD, DNP, ANP-BC, FAAN, assistant professor at the Hunter Bellevue School of Nursing in New York, and colleagues examined the knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding COVID-19 among health care professionals, patients with MS and healthy controls and compared the levels of perceived risk between the groups. The cross-sectional survey included 146 participants.

"My initial interest was to identify the attitudes, knowledge and practice of different populations early during the pandemic," Ben-Zacharia told Healio Neurology. "As the topic of perceived risk has evolved, the thought was to compare perceived risk between the three groups: MS specialists, patients and healthy controls. Data collection was done from April to May of 2020, early in the pandemic."

All respondents (100%) reported changing their behaviors to prevent COVID-19 infection, Ben-Zacharia and colleagues found, and most participants said that they would “welcome someone into their community” after that person had recovered from COVID-19 (94.5%). Nearly 90% of respondents (88.4%) reported a willingness to accept an approved vaccine for COVID-19; more than half of respondents (61%) said they would also accept a vaccine for their children.

The researchers observed a statistical relationship between having a moderate risk for COVID-19 and welcoming people who had recovered from COVID-19 into their communities (P = .009). They also noted a trend association between risk level and all groups (P = .05).

Specifically, 26% of health care professionals reported a high risk for COVID-19, which was higher than the patients with MS and healthy controls, while 68% of healthy controls reported moderate risk, which was higher than patients with MS and health care professionals. Among patients with MS, 29.3% reported a mild risk for COVID-19, which was higher than that reported by health care professionals and healthy controls.

Ben-Zacharia and colleagues found that most participants preferred to receive medical information from their clinical team. More than 60% of respondents wanted to receive information regarding medical care and treatment options from these health care professionals; nearly 40% wanted information about ways to prevent COVID-19. Approximately 20% of respondents also wanted to receive information about the cause/origin of COVID-19 as well as signs and symptoms of the disease.

“There was increased awareness of [COVID-19] risk among patients with MS, health care professionals and healthy controls,” the researchers wrote. “Perceived risk among health care professional was higher than patients and healthy controls.”

The results "emphasize the need to educate patients with MS about risk, prevention and management related to SARS-CoV-2, including explanations and guidelines about care and vaccination," according to Ben-Zacharia.

"There is a need for more research evaluating the implementation of different virtual educational programs/series or workshops and assessing their effectiveness in continued maintenance of preventative strategies to mitigate the risk for COVID-19 in patients with MS, especially after getting the vaccinations," she said.  

Editor's Note: This article was updated on March 1, 2021, to include original commentary from Aliza Bitton Ben-Zacharia, PhD, DNP, ANP-BC, FAAN.