Long-standing COVID patients may experience many of the negative effects on their physical, mental and social well-being that people with other non-COVID diseases experience, new research suggests.
The findings will be published in the peer-reviewed journal on December 1, 2022. JAMA Network OpenBased on comparison between people known to be infected with COVID-19 and people with similar symptoms who test negative for COVID-19. The researchers found that 40% of the COVID-positive group and 54% of the COVID-negative group reported moderate to severe residual symptoms three months after enrollment in the study.
“Many diseases, including COVID, can cause symptoms that negatively affect a person’s well-being months after the initial infection, which is what we’ve seen here,” said Lauren Wisk, assistant professor of medicine in the department of general internal medicine. and healthcare research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “As these changes appear similar for COVID and COVID+ participants, this suggests that the experience of the pandemic and the stress associated with it may play a role in slowing people’s recovery from any illness.”
Wisk noted that the study included both people with and without acute COVID (but with another illness) to examine the impact of COVID on a person’s well-being, again compared to the general population.
“When it comes to well-being, we found that the COVID-positive and COVID-negative groups looked more similar than different, but both had worse health scores than the general population.”
The multisite study was conducted in English and Spanish under the umbrella of INSPIRE (Innovative Support for Patients with a Registry of SARS-CoV-2 Infections), a project funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Participating sites include the University of California, Los Angeles; Rush University Medical Center in Chicago; University of California, San Francisco; University of Washington in Seattle; Yale University; UTHalth Houston; University of Southwest Texas; and Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.
The study’s 1,000 participants were 18 years of age or older, and they were:
- Tested for COVID-19 within 42 days of study enrollment with positive or negative test results and no previous diagnosis of COVID-19;
- Having symptoms known to be associated with COVID-19 at the time of testing, such as cough, fever, headache or fatigue;
- had access to an internet-connected device such as a smartphone, tablet or computer to complete online surveys; and
- She completed an initial questionnaire at enrollment and a follow-up questionnaire three months later asking questions about their physical functioning, anxiety, depression, fatigue, social participation, sleep disturbances, pain interaction, and cognitive function.
Of these participants, 722 (72%) tested positive for COVID and 278 (28%) tested negative.
Overall, those who tested positive for COVID had self-reported physical and mental health symptoms three months after infection, similar to those who contracted other non-COVID diseases during the pandemic. However, the COVID-positive group experienced better improvements in their social well-being than the COVID-negative group.
The study may be limited by the possibility that some of the sickest patients at highest risk for long-term COVID were unable or unwilling to participate; the lack of clarity as to what conditions some symptomatic COVID-negative participants suffered at enrollment, such as bacterial pneumonia or respiratory syncytial virus, makes it difficult to determine whether these individuals would have had more or less severe self-reported outcomes; the fact that participants were recruited from December 2020 to September 2021 makes the findings potentially unapplicable for subsequent COVID variants; and that COVID-19 tests are sometimes inaccurate. Finally, the health status of the participants was evaluated 3 months after their first illness; Many diseases take time to heal, and comparing improvements in symptoms over a longer period of time will be essential for a meaningful understanding of the long COVID.
Still, the findings highlight the importance of comparing COVID-positive and COVID-negative people to assess the impact of SARS-CoV-2 on the population. D., co-senior author of the paper and professor of medicine in the research division of general internal medicine and health care at the David Geffen School. “Most other studies on long-term COVID do not have such a control group,” said Joann Elmore. Medicine at UCLA.
“Researchers and doctors now better understand the well-being implications for COVID-19 as a result of this study,” said Elmore, who is also principal investigator at the UCLA site. “The findings highlight the potential widespread impact of the pandemic on our overall health, including the highly recognized physical effects as well as the emotional, social and mental aspects that are less followed.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (75D30120C08008) funded this research.
UCLA researchers Lauren Wisk (first author) and Dr. In addition to Joann Elmore (senior author), additional study authors on this article are co-senior author Dr. Graham Nichol, Dr. Kelli O’Laughlin, Dr. It’s Nicole. Gentile and Jill Anderson of the University of Washington; Rush University’s Dr. Michael Gottlieb, Katherine Koo and Dr. Robert Weinstein; Yale University’s Dr. Erica Spatz, Huihui Yu, Zhenqiu Lin, and Dr. Arjun Venkatesh; UC San Francisco’s Dr. Ralph Wang and Dr. Juan Carlos Montoy; Thomas Jefferson University’s Dr. Benjamin Slovis and Dr. Anna-Marie Chang; Sharon Saydah, Ian Plumb, and Jin-Mann Lin of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; At the University of Southwest Texas, Dr. Samuel McDonald and Dr. Ahamed Idris; University of Texas Houston’s Dr. Ryan Huebinger and Mandy Hill; and Tendo Systems’ Dr. Bala Hota.