CO-FLOW: COvid-19 Follow-up care paths and Long-term Outcomes Within the Dutch health care system: study protocol of a multicenter prospective cohort study following patients 2 years after hospital discharge

BMC Health Serv Res. 2021 Aug 21;21(1):847. doi: 10.1186/s12913-021-06813-6.


Background: First studies indicate that up to 6 months after hospital discharge, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) causes severe physical, cognitive, and psychological impairments, which may affect participation and health-related quality of life (HRQoL). After hospitalization for COVID-19, a number of patients are referred to medical rehabilitation centers or skilled nursing facilities for further treatment, while others go home with or without aftercare. The aftercare paths include 1] community-based rehabilitation; 2] in- and outpatient medical rehabilitation; 3] inpatient rehabilitation in skilled nursing facilities; and 4] sheltered care (inpatient). These aftercare paths and the trajectories of recovery after COVID-19 urgently need long-term in-depth evaluation to optimize and personalize treatment. CO-FLOW aims, by following the outcomes and aftercare paths of all COVID-19 patients after hospital discharge, to systematically study over a 2-year period: 1] trajectories of physical, cognitive, and psychological recovery; 2] patient flows, healthcare utilization, patient satisfaction with aftercare, and barriers/facilitators regarding aftercare as experienced by healthcare professionals; 3] effects of physical, cognitive, and psychological outcomes on participation and HRQoL; and 4] predictors for long-term recovery, health care utilization, and patient satisfaction with aftercare.

Methods: CO-FLOW is a multicenter prospective cohort study in the mid-west of the Netherlands with a 2-year follow-up period. Measurements comprise non-invasive clinical tests and patient reported outcome measures from a combined rehabilitation, pulmonary, and intensive care perspective. Measurements are performed at 3, 6, 12, and 24 months after hospital discharge and, if applicable, at rehabilitation discharge. CO-FLOW aims to include at least 500 patients who survived hospitalization for COVID-19, aged ≥18 years.

Discussion: CO-FLOW will provide in-depth knowledge on the long-term sequelae of COVID-19 and the quality of current aftercare paths for patients who survived hospitalization. This knowledge is a prerequisite to facilitate the right care in the right place for COVID-19 and comparable future infectious diseases.

Trial registration: The Netherlands Trial Register (NTR), . Registered: 12-06-2020, CO-FLOW trialregister no. NL8710.

Keywords: Aftercare paths; Barriers; COVID-19; Cognitive recovery; Facilitators; Participation; Physical recovery; Psychosocial recovery; Rehabilitation; Satisfaction.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aftercare*
  • COVID-19*
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Multicenter Studies as Topic
  • Patient Discharge
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Treatment Outcome