COVID-19 and Arthritis Research


The research team at Arthritis Research Canada are working across Canada and internationally to create registries, to study psychological impacts, attitudes and behaviours, and assess the delivery of health services.

Our Associate Scientific Director, Dr. Diane Lacaille is the Canadian lead on a worldwide alliance to collect information on rheumatology patients with COVID-19. This study will provide important insights on how the COVID-19 infection impacts our patients, and how arthritis medications may add to the risk of infection. Additionally, we’re involved in a North American-wide registry for those with juvenile idiopathic arthritis.

Further research is being conducted to assess the psychological impact of measures  that have been put in place to control the spread of COVID-19, such as social distancing, and in turn, assessing psychological resilience with how well people with arthritis are coping and managing their stress.

We are collecting data on patient’s experiences with receiving care and accessing their doctor through telehealth (telephone or video) for treatment and mental-health check-ups. Another study involves arthritis patients who were previously surveyed about their overall health, stress and sense of well-being. Those same people will be re-interviewed now and again following COVID-19, to learn more about how staying at home has impacted their quality of life.

“We’re very mindful of the growing concerns about COVID-19 from our arthritis community, and as the largest arthritis research institution in North America, our commitment to innovative research remains the same”, noted Dr. John Esdaile, Arthritis Research Canada’s Scientific Director. “Our world class scientists are adapting and adjusting their research to provide the most reliable information about COVID-19 and better understand its impact on people with arthritis.”


Leading Research. Finding Answers. Saving Lives.

The following list includes all of the arthritis research underway to address the impact of COVID-19 on people with arthritis.

  • Dr. Susanne Benseler is involved with a North American-wide registry focusing on juvenile idiopathic arthritis patients with COVID-19 that will address questions for that group of diseases.
  • Dr. Mary De Vera and her team have launched the UNIFIED Study to help understand the impacts of COVID-19 on medication use and mental health in people living with rheumatic disease (osteoarthritis, arthritis, gout, and lupus).
  • Drs. Antonio Avina, Diane Lacaille, Aslam Anis, Jacek Kopec, Hui Xie and Michal Abrahamowicz are developing a study to link all health data in BC to a COVID-19 database to research the safety and benefits of modern arthritis treatments as well as factors that may increase the risk of developing COVID-19 disease in people with any type of arthritis.
  • Dr. Susan Bartlett is creating a study to assess the psychological impact of the measures that are meant to control the spread of COVID-19 (such as social distancing), in those with systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases such as lupus, scleroderma, and vasculitis.
  • Dr. Deborah Da Costa and Dr. Paul Fortin are conducting a survey of sleep in individuals with lupus, with and without COVID-19. Dr. Da Costa is also interested in assessing psychological resilience which she found in the SARS outbreak to be an important marker for coping well.
  • Dr. Catherine Backman and her Research Trainee Flora To-Miles previously surveyed people with arthritis about their overall health, stress, and sense of well-being. They are now going to re-interview these people to learn how needing to stay at home has impacted these outcomes.
  • Dr. Ann Clarke and Dr. Paul Fortin are collaborating with the University of Waterloo to survey lupus patients across Canada on health information sources and individual attitudes to sharing health information during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Dr. Mary De Vera and Dr. Kam Shojania will assess patients’ experiences with care and accessing their physician in this time of difficulty. This will include telehealth (telephone or video), treatment decisions, and mental health check-ups.
  • Dr. Linda Li and Research Trainee Jenny Leese will study the unique impact of COVID-19 on self-care in people with rheumatoid arthritis. From managing stress and keeping active, to accessing medication and eating healthy.
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