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Characterising patterns of COVID-19 and long COVID symptoms: evidence from nine UK longitudinal studies

Bowyer, Ruth CE; Huggins, Charlotte; Toms, Renin; Shaw, Richard J; Hou, Bo; Thompson, Ellen J; Kwong, Alex SF; ... CONVALESCENCE Study, .; + view all (2023) Characterising patterns of COVID-19 and long COVID symptoms: evidence from nine UK longitudinal studies. European Journal of Epidemiology , 38 pp. 199-210. 10.1007/s10654-022-00962-6. Green open access

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Abstract

Multiple studies across global populations have established the primary symptoms characterising Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and long COVID. However, as symptoms may also occur in the absence of COVID-19, a lack of appropriate controls has often meant that specificity of symptoms to acute COVID-19 or long COVID, and the extent and length of time for which they are elevated after COVID-19, could not be examined. We analysed individual symptom prevalences and characterised patterns of COVID-19 and long COVID symptoms across nine UK longitudinal studies, totalling over 42,000 participants. Conducting latent class analyses separately in three groups ('no COVID-19', 'COVID-19 in last 12 weeks', 'COVID-19 > 12 weeks ago'), the data did not support the presence of more than two distinct symptom patterns, representing high and low symptom burden, in each group. Comparing the high symptom burden classes between the 'COVID-19 in last 12 weeks' and 'no COVID-19' groups we identified symptoms characteristic of acute COVID-19, including loss of taste and smell, fatigue, cough, shortness of breath and muscle pains or aches. Comparing the high symptom burden classes between the 'COVID-19 > 12 weeks ago' and 'no COVID-19' groups we identified symptoms characteristic of long COVID, including fatigue, shortness of breath, muscle pain or aches, difficulty concentrating and chest tightness. The identified symptom patterns among individuals with COVID-19 > 12 weeks ago were strongly associated with self-reported length of time unable to function as normal due to COVID-19 symptoms, suggesting that the symptom pattern identified corresponds to long COVID. Building the evidence base regarding typical long COVID symptoms will improve diagnosis of this condition and the ability to elicit underlying biological mechanisms, leading to better patient access to treatment and services.

Type: Article
Title: Characterising patterns of COVID-19 and long COVID symptoms: evidence from nine UK longitudinal studies
Location: Netherlands
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s10654-022-00962-6
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10654-022-00962-6
Language: English
Additional information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Keywords: COVID-19, Clustering, Long COVID, Longitudinal studies, Symptom patterns
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Social Research Institute
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Cardiovascular Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Cardiovascular Science > Population Science and Experimental Medicine
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Cardiovascular Science > Population Science and Experimental Medicine > MRC Unit for Lifelong Hlth and Ageing
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10163787
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