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Tiffany Dharia

Education Program Trends in Medication Interruptions and Anxiety During the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Online Survey of Patients with Vasculitis

Tell us about yourself, your research and why this interests you.

I am a third year Internal Medicine resident at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. My interests lie in immunology, systemic autoimmune disease and health equity. My research is of particular interest because COVID-19 has been a significant source of anxiety for many of our patients. It was important for us to see how their behavior changed over the course of the pandemic and how this was reflected in health outcomes. I am interested in identifying barriers to patient care and furthering understanding of patient behaviors and outcomes.

What’s been most rewarding to you as an investigator?

The most rewarding part of being an investigator is the opportunity to analyze the data and share important conclusions that can help address barriers to care and change approaches to healthcare.  Fun Fact: I have visited all the 7 wonders of the world!

Why is your research important to patients?

Using the Vasculitis Patient-Powered Research Network (VPPRN) and partnering organizations, we received data from patients with vasculitis who completed baseline surveys between March 29 and June 30, 2020 and at least one follow-up survey through May 2021. We found that patients with vasculitis had high levels of anxiety at the start of the pandemic, but anxiety decreased close to general population averages by May of 2021. Our research showed that interruptions in medication use increased in 2021, but were more commonly recommended by physicians and may have been related to interruptions occurring around the time of vaccination. A substantial proportion of interruptions in medication use was not recommended by physicians, however, highlighting the importance of regular communication between the patients and the healthcare team during public health crises to ensure optimal use of medications.

How was the VPPRN used in your research study?

This research was conducted through the VPPRN and partnering organizations and demonstrates the efficiency and power of working with an engaged group of patients to advance research. The project team included a VPPRN Patient Research Partner (Jennifer Gordon, PhD) who was helpful in the design of the survey and interpretation of the results.

The findings from this research study are a direct result of the participation, engagement, and health information provided by members of the VPPRN!