Misinformation has become more prevalent in the coronavirus epidemic period, leading to distrust and confusion. For people with rheumatic pain treatment and musculoskeletal disease management, finding correct health details now has major implications on their standard of health.
In this period, standard treatment and guidelines have changed quickly, besides the new knowledge regarding virus biology, transmission mechanisms, disease-modifying treatment, and risk factors. It has been challenging for both clinicians and scientists to keep up with this information overload. Furthermore, medical myth propagation, based on data that is not peer-reviewed and is preliminary, has caused considerable excitement in people regarding possible preventive measures or cures, plus fears concerning risk.
Several highly publicized drugs include the ones that people with rheumatology diseases commonly use. That creates alarming drug scarcity, plus anxiety and confusion about drug creation among patients. An example is a hydroxychloroquine; social networking websites are full of unsubstantiated claims regarding that drug’s benefits.
The media attention around NSAIDs, too, provoked considerable anxiety in the initial phase of the epidemic. There are claims that those drugs might make COVID-19 more severe, causing urgent demands from the FDA and EMA for further research. Almost every study exonerated NSAIDs regarding coronavirus, including one with over 72,000 UK people demonstrating that those drugs do not cause severe disease or higher fatality rates for hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
The drugs were at the heart of a controversy in the Spanish flu period, when the then Surgeon General of the US recommended low-dose aspirin’s use to cope with the infection. That low-dose product is now thought to be a toxic one, which could contribute to more lung damage as well as death.
Science professionals quickly gained knowledge regarding risk factors associated with poor COVID-19 outcomes. Anyhow, that was a different area where confusion abounded in patients, especially regarding interrupted clinical care given on a routine basis. For musculoskeletal or rheumatic disease patients, patient-centered organizations and charities continue to fill gaps in providing information. For instance, the UK non-profit Versus Arthritis formed COVA, a virtual assistant, to help arthritis patients get relevant COVID-19 details.
Rheumatologists should urgently create systems to aid in guiding patients through this wave of coronavirus-related information and false information. That should entail tips about how to identify reliable or credible sources. That kind of guidance is vital for informed health choices in patients.