Patients with rare and undiagnosed diseases (RUDs) face significant health challenges, which may be exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal of this study was to identify specific impacts of the pandemic on RUD patients, and targets for improving support and health-care access.We conducted an online survey of RUD patients and their family members from 21 April to 8 June 2020, recruited from 76 Facebook groups for RUDs. Questions assessed patient characteristics and impacts of the pandemic on RUD diagnosis and management.Respondents (n?=?413), including 274 RUD patients and 139 family members, were predominantly female and white, though income varied. Impacts of the pandemic included (1) barriers to accessing essential health care, (2) specific impacts of restrictive COVID-19 visitation policies on ability to advocate in health-care settings, (3) uncertainty and fear regarding COVID-19 risk, (4) exacerbated physical and mental health challenges, (5) magnified impacts of reduced educational and therapeutic services, and (6) unexpected positive changes due to the pandemic.There are specific, serious challenges affecting RUD patients and families during the COVID-19 pandemic. There is an urgent need to develop approaches to mitigate these challenges both during and beyond the pandemic.
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41436-020-01069-7
View details for PubMedID 33420343