Anxiety about the COVID-19 pandemic has decreased over time in patients with neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD), according to a new study published in the Journal of the Neurological Sciences.

The study found that 80% of NMOSD patients (n=96) experienced anxiety during the first 3 months of the pandemic. Patients were surveyed again 9 months later (12 months from the beginning of the pandemic), and the anxiety rate had reduced significantly, to just 55% of patients (n=66).

“Along with pandemic prolongation, level of anxiety had been decreased gradually,” the authors reported.

The authors noted that NMOSD patients may be more worried about the pandemic since the nature of the disease and their use of immunosuppressants might increase their risk of infection.

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The study also found that patients increased their adherence to preventative and sanitary protocols related to COVID-19 mitigation. At the first time of the survey, 86.66% of patients said they wore masks, and this number had increased to 100% by the second visit.

Only 75% said they practiced social distancing at the first visit and this number climbed to 90% at the second. Hand washing also increased to 91.66% at the second visit, up from only 85%.

“It should be considered that awareness must be preserved till the end of [the] epidemic,” the authors cautioned.

A total of 120 patients were recruited for the study at the NMOSD Clinic of Kashani Hospital in Isfahan, Iran. A total of 96 of the patients in the study were female and the mean age of patients was 36.37±9.69 years. The average duration of NMOSD was 8.49±5.35 years.

Patients were asked subjectively if they felt anxious or afraid of the pandemic. The patients’ anxiety levels were also assessed objectively using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale questionnaire. Lastly, patients were asked about how they followed general cautions and sanitary protocols.

Reference

Mehdipour R, Ashtari F. The psychological effect of Covid19 pandemic on neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder patients and their attitude change during the pandemic, after a year. J Neurol Sci. 2021;429(118123):118123. doi:10.1016/j.jns.2021.118123