COvid-19 aNd musculoskeleTal heAlth durIng lockdowN (CONTAIN)

Duration: 01 May 2020 - 31 December 2020
FunderBritish Society for RheumatologyVersus Arthritis
Chief investigator: Professor Gary Macfarlane
Co-investigators: Professor Gareth Jones, Dr Rosemary Hollick, Professor Peter Murchie, Dr Daniel Whibley, Dr LaKrista Morton, Dr Kevin Stelfox


With the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has understandably been a lot of research directly related to the virus.  However, we risk forgetting people with chronic diseases just at a time when their need is greatest and with severely reduced services.  In the CONTAIN study, we are surveying participants of three of our other studies, BSR-PsABSRBR-AS and MAmMOTH in order to determine:

  • Their current health, and specifically how this has changed since they were previously surveyed;
  • Their experience of and access to care; and
  • Their perceived current and future care needs.

We are then conducting in-depth interviews with a sub-group of participants to explore these issues further.


Further information

Background to study

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in unprecedented changes to the life of people throughout the world, including the United Kingdom. In a very short space of time social distancing measures were, and continue to be, put in place confining people to their home and only able to leave for specific activities.

We know from previous studies that two key aspects of maintaining musculoskeletal health are taking regular exercise and maintaining good mental health. Exercise is likely to have been adversely affected by the lockdown conditions, while mental health is likely to have suffered due to anxiety around the pandemic generally, concerns about one’s own health, and the effects of social isolation caused by the amount of time required to be spent at home. Many will have experienced changes in their workplace; some may still be working in very stressful conditions, while others may have moved to home working, been furloughed or even lost their job.

An early report found that there had been a significant increase in post-lockdown musculoskeletal complaints. More than half reported they were exercising less, with new pain in the back, neck or shoulder and around two thirds reported loss of sleep due to worry. At the same time patients have experienced a radical change in healthcare delivery, with almost all appointments moving to telephone or online, and reduced access to many services.

While there has been a primary focus on undertaking research directly related to COVID-19, it is important not to forget people living with chronic diseases at a time when their need is greatest.

What are the aims and methods of the study?

The study will follow people who have taken part in one of our recent studies. It will include people with different types of arthritis as well as those with chronic pain. These people will be invited to participate in a short online questionnaire, covering a range of topics including:

  • Their current health and how this may have changed since they were last surveyed
  • Their employment status, and how their employment has been affected by the COVID-19 lockdown
  • Their experiences of healthcare during lockdown, including changes to healthcare services and any virtual healthcare services accessed

Participants will also be invited to volunteer to participate in a telephone or video call interview in order to gather more rich information about their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown.

How will this research benefit patients?

We aim to produce a report based on the questionnaire data and interview responses we receive, which will describe the health of people with inflammatory and non-inflammatory musculoskeletal conditions during the COVID-19 lockdown in the UK. We hope this will provide a better understanding of these patients’ experiences of employment, access to healthcare services, mental and physical health outcomes and the challenges they may have faced at this difficult time, and will help to inform future practice and service delivery.

How can I get involved?

Previous and current participants of the Maintaining Musculoskeletal Health Study (MAmMOTH) and the British Society for Rheumatology registers in axial spondyloarthritis (BSRBR-AS) and psoriatic arthritis (BSR-PsA) who have agreed to be contacted for further research are being invited directly to participate in this survey, and should receive an invitation email shortly.

The study is not open to further participants.

Study team

Principle investigator


Research team

Information for participants

You can view or download copies of the study Participant Information Sheets below:

What results has the study produced so far?

The study has so far produced one published paper:

A Plain Language Summary for this paper will be posted on the site soon.

Contact details

Tel: 01224 438030