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Publication Detail
Factors shaping the mental health and well-being of people experiencing persistent COVID-19 symptoms or 'long COVID': qualitative study
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Authors:
    Burton A, Aughterson H, Fancourt D, Philip KEJ
  • Publisher:
    Royal College of Psychiatrists
  • Publication date:
  • Journal:
    BJPsych Open
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  • Issue:
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  • Keywords:
    COVID-19, Long COVID, mental health, phenomenology, qualitative research
  • Notes:
    This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Copyright © The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Royal College of Psychiatrists
BACKGROUND: Around one in ten people who contract COVID-19 report persistent symptoms or 'long COVID'. Impaired mental health and well-being is commonly reported, including anxiety, depression and reduced quality of life. However, there is limited in-depth research exploring why mental health and well-being are affected in people experiencing long COVID. AIMS: To explore factors affecting mental health and well-being from the perspective of people with long COVID. METHOD: Semi-structured qualitative interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed. Data were analysed using reflexive thematic analysis. Twenty-one people with long COVID participated in the study. Participants were eligible if they self-reported a positive swab test/antibody test or one or more commonly reported COVID-19 symptoms at illness onset. and experiences of one or more long COVID symptoms ≥3 weeks following illness onset. RESULTS: Five themes were identified across participant accounts regarding factors affecting mental health and well-being, including symptoms causing severe disruption to daily life, lack of service and treatment options, uncertainty of illness trajectories, experiences of care and understanding from others and changes to identity. CONCLUSIONS: People with long COVID experience a range of factors that negatively affect their mental health and well-being. Providing patient-centred health services that integrate rapidly evolving research in this area is important, as are peer support groups and supported approaches to self-management.
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