Physical and mental health complications post-COVID-19: Scoping review

J Psychosom Res. 2021 Aug:147:110525. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2021.110525. Epub 2021 May 20.


Objective: Several long-lasting health complications have been reported in previous coronavirus infections. Therefore, the aim of this study was to review studies that evaluated physical and mental health problems post-COVID-19.

Methods: Articles for inclusion in this scoping review were identified by searching the PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science and Google Scholar databases for items dated from 1 January to 7 November 2020. Observational studies evaluating physical health (musculoskeletal symptoms, functional status) or mental health status with a follow-up period longer than 1 month after discharge or after the onset of symptoms were included.

Results: This scoping review included 34 studies with follow-up periods of up to 3 months post-COVID-19. The most commonly reported physical health problems were fatigue (range 28% to 87%), pain (myalgia 4.5% to 36%), arthralgia (6.0% to 27%), reduced physical capacity (six-minute walking test range 180 to 561 m), and declines in physical role functioning, usual care and daily activities (reduced in 15% to 54% of patients). Common mental health problems were anxiety (range 6.5% to 63%), depression (4% to 31%) and post-traumatic stress disorder (12.1% to 46.9%). Greater fatigue, pain, anxiety and depression were reported in female patients and individuals admitted to intensive care. An overall lower quality of life was seen up to 3 months post-COVID-19.

Conclusions: This review highlights the presence of several physical and mental health problems up to 3 months post-COVID-19. The findings point to the need for comprehensive evaluation and rehabilitation post-COVID-19 to promote quality of life.

Keywords: Coronavirus; Follow up; Health; Post-discharge; Quality of life.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / complications
  • COVID-19 / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Mental Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Quality of Life