Healthcare Disruptions and Use of Telehealth Services Among People With Multiple Sclerosis During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Michelle H. Chen, Yael Goverover, Amanda Botticello, John DeLuca, Helen M. Genova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: The current study examined health care disruptions and use of telehealth services among people with multiple sclerosis (pwMS) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Design: Cross-sectional survey. Setting: General community. Participants: Participants (N=163) included 70 pwMS and 93 healthy controls (HCs). The majority of respondents were from the United States (88%). Interventions: Not applicable. Main Outcome Measures: Rates of health care disruptions (eg, missing/canceling appointments, experiencing delays) and telehealth use for MS and non-MS medical care and mental health care. Results: In this U.S. majority, predominantly White, and high socioeconomic status sample, 38% to 50% of pwMS reported experiencing disruptions in their MS and non-MS medical care and 20% to 33% reported disruptions in their mental health care; this was significantly lower than the rates observed among HCs. Compared with HCs, pwMS were more likely to use telehealth than in-person services, especially for mental health care. The majority of pwMS and HCs reported being satisfied with telehealth services. Individuals with higher degrees of functional limitation experienced more health care disruptions and were more likely to use telehealth services than individuals with lower degrees of functional limitation. Conclusions: Despite high health care disruption rates, pwMS frequently used and were highly satisfied with telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to physical limitations commonly observed in the MS population that may preclude travel, telehealth services should be continued even after resolution of the pandemic to expand access and reduce health care disparities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Delivery of health care
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Rehabilitation
  • Telemedicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation

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