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P578 Adriatic-Balkan regional survey on COVID-19 in Inflammatory Bowel Disease patients

Borzan, V.(1,2);Orsic Fric, V.(1,2);Borzan, B.(3);

(1)Clinical Hospital Centre Osijek, Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Osijek, Croatia;(2)Faculty of Medicine- J. J. Strossmayer University of Osijek, Department of Internal Medicine, Osijek, Croatia;(3)Community Health Center Osijek, Department of Occupational Medicine, Osijek, Croatia

Background

COVID-19 pandemic completely changed the world during the past year, but its’ greatest impact was on healthcare system. As inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are chronic conditions, and patients are in constant interaction with healthcare system and are treated with immunosuppressive therapies, they present a particularly vulnerable group of patients during the pandemic.

Methods

Aim of this study was to survey IBD patients’ opinion on the impact of COVID-19 on their mental health, availability and quality of healthcare and their opinion on vaccination. We created a questionnaire that was posted to web based IBD patient group that gather patients from our geographical, Adriatic-Balkan, region (Croatia, Bosnia and Hercegovina,  Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro). Patients answered questions anonymously. Answers were created as yes/no, in grades from 1 (no impact/fear) to 5 (very large impact/very severe fear) or by choosing one of the offered answers. In total, 167 responses were received between December 2020 and March 2021, and were analyzed by descriptive statistics.

Results

A total of 167 IBD patients filled the questionnaire, of which 116 (69,5%) were female. Median age was 36 years (min. 15, max. 62 ys). Most patients did not have COVID-19 (82,6%). A little over half of patients believe that IBD patients are at higher risk of developing COVID-19 (n=97, 58,1%). COVID-19 pandemic has a moderate to large impact on their mental health in majority of patients (n=106, 63,5%) and 99 patients (59,3%) feel moderate to severe fear for their own health because of the pandemic. Most of the information about COVID-19 patients found on the internet (44,3%), from patients’ associations (26,3%) and from their IBD doctor (22,8%). Same number of patients (n=48, 28,7%) feel no impact or very large impact of pandemic on availability to IBD team. Most of patients did not change their IBD therapy during the pandemic (86,8%), and majority (62,3%) felt there was no impact of pandemic on the availability to their therapy. Almost half of patients (49,7%) feel that the quality of healthcare system is worse since the beginning of the pandemic. More than half of patients (57,5%) do not want to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Conclusion

COVID-19 pandemic had a moderate to large impact on mental health in majority of patients. It is particularly important that patients receive correct information about COVID-19 from medical professionals, and patients’ association groups are very useful channel for patient education that should be used more. More than half of patients do not want to be vaccinated, showing the importance of patient education even more.

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