NIHR publishes long COVID survey that suggests significant impact on home and work life

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has published its second themed ‘long COVID’ review, as well as a survey that addresses the personal impact of the condition(s).

The short survey, intended to be used as a ‘complement to the evidence’, received over 3,000 responses from people living with long COVID.

The survey of 3,286 people, from a self-selected sample, gives a snap-shot of the impact of longer-term symptoms on areas such as family life, caring roles, work and finances

It’s important to highlight that the NIHR states that results ‘may not be generalisable for the whole population’. However, findings included:

  • 71% of respondents said long COVID was affecting family life
  • 80% said it was impacting their ability to work
  • 39% said it was impacting their ability to care for dependents
  • 36% said long COVID was affecting their finances.

The survey also asked about respondents’ ability and desire to access services and support. The results were:

  • 85% of respondents said they had sought access to healthcare services, 15% had not
  • 23% wanted a caseworker to coordinate care
  • 32% had not been able to access all of the healthcare services they thought they needed.

The NIHR’s second themed long COVID review, a follow-up to its first one from October 2020, used over 300 ‘papers and academic pieces’.

Findings included the potential to understand long COVID as ‘up to four syndromes’: post-ICU syndrome; long-term organ damage; post-viral syndrome; and an ‘entirely novel syndrome’ that could be ‘more specifically’ identified as long COVID.

The NIHR review also said there was some evidence that long COVID could also be an ‘active disease’ with ‘continued inflammatory responses, lingering viral activity and/or blood clotting disorders’.

Other research considered included:

  • 50-89% of those admitted to hospital had at least one ‘enduring symptom’ after two months
  • Long COVID could be more prevalent in women and young people than expected
  • Evidence of organ impairment in both hospital admissions and people who remained at home
  • More data is needed on potential post-virus anxiety and/or depression
  • Some indication that the ‘brain fog’ symptom has a neurological cause.

Conclusions from the review and survey mentioned the need for more targeted research to understand the ‘symptom clusters’, as well as the need to reach vulnerable and hard to reach groups eg prison populations and the elderly.

The full second review from the NIHR can be viewed online.