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Characterizing the COVID-19 Illness Experience to Inform the Study of Post-acute Sequelae and Recovery.

  • Santiago-Rodriguez, Edda I
  • Maiorana, Andres
  • Peluso, Michael J
  • Hoh, Rebecca
  • Tai, Viva
  • Fehrman, Emily A
  • Hernandez, Yanel
  • Torres, Leonel
  • Spinelli, Matthew A
  • Gandhi, Monica
  • Kelly, J Daniel
  • Martin, Jeffrey N
  • Henrich, Timothy J
  • Deeks, Steven G
  • Sauceda, John A
Publication Date
Dec 16, 2021
eScholarship - University of California
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BackgroundThere is an urgent need to fully understand the impact of variable COVID-19 experiences and the optimal management of post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection. We characterized the variability in the acute illness experience and ongoing recovery process from participants in a COVID-19 recovery cohort study in Northern California in 2020.MethodWe completed 24 semi-structured in-depth interviews with adults with confirmed positive SARV-CoV-2 nucleic acid amplification test result, had recovered or were recovering from acute infection, and underwent serial evaluations. We purposefully sampled English- and Spanish-speaking adults with asymptomatic, mild, and severe symptomatic infection, including those who were hospitalized and those with HIV co-infection. We used a thematic analysis to analyze interviews and identify salient themes.ResultsAfter integrating the thematic analysis with clinical data, we identified key themes: (1) across symptom profiles and severity, experiencing COVID-19 was associated with psychological distress; (2) symptomatic infection carried uncertainty in symptom presentation and ongoing recovery (e.g., long COVID); and (3) health information-seeking behavior was facilitated by access to medical care and uncertainty with the recovery process.ConclusionOur data informs the emerging field of "long COVID" research and shows a need to provide information and continuous support to persons with post-acute sequelae to ensure they feel secure along the path to recovery.

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