The role of digital health technologies in COVID-19 surveillance and recovery: a specific case of long haulers

Int Rev Psychiatry. 2021 Jun;33(4):412-423. doi: 10.1080/09540261.2020.1854195. Epub 2021 Apr 16.


Digital health and technologies are essential to curbing the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic especially with shelter-in-place and social distancing orders. Epidemiologists and public health officials are tapping into frequently used technologies like wearables, digital devices, digital and social media data to detect and validate COVID-19 symptoms throughout the pandemic, especially during early stages when symptoms were evolving. In this article, we review how digital technologies and social media platforms can identify and inform our understanding of COVID-19 pandemic surveillance and recovery efforts. We analyze Reddit narrative posts and comments on r/covidlonghaulers to demonstrate how social media can be used to better understand COVID-19 pandemic. Using Reddit data, we highlight long haulers' patient journeys and shed light on potential consequences of their condition. We identified 21 themes, of which the following were significantly associated with valence: COVID-19 Symptoms (r = -0.037), medical advice (r = -0.030), medical system (r = -0.029), bodily processes (r = -0.020), questions (r = 0.024), physical activity (r = 0.033), self-differentials and negations (r = 0.040) and supplements (r = 0.025). Our brief literature review and analysis of r/covidlonghaulers narrative posts demonstrate the value of digital technologies and social media platforms as they act as modern avenues for public health, safety, and well-being.

Keywords: COVID-19; digital health; long covid; long haulers.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Physical Distancing
  • Public Health Surveillance*
  • Recovery of Function*
  • Social Media*
  • Telemedicine / trends*
  • Time Factors
  • Wearable Electronic Devices / supply & distribution*