Health-related quality of life and long-term symptoms among patients with non-severe covid-19 - a prospective cohort study

Infect Dis (Lond). 2023 Apr;55(4):272-281. doi: 10.1080/23744235.2023.2175904. Epub 2023 Feb 8.


Background: The vast majority of covid-19 patients experience non-severe disease. Nonetheless, long-term symptoms may be common and the impact on quality of life is uncertain. This study aims to examine these aspects in a prospective, longitudinal cohort.

Methods: Non-hospitalised patients with PCR-confirmed covid-19 were prospectively invited to self-report assessments of background data, symptoms and recovery, illness perception (BIPQ) and health-related quality of life (HR-Qol) measured by EQ5D-VAS.

Results: 154 patients were included (mean age 46 years, 69% female). The majority of participants (65%) had symptoms for 1-4 weeks and 12% more than 6 months. The most common symptoms were initially malaise, fatigue, headache, fever and cough and the most common long-term symptoms were impaired physical condition, fatigue, anosmia and headache. The BIPQ index had a negative correlation with the EQ5D-VAS score after the infection, but not with long-term symptoms. Mean differences in the EQ5D-VAS score were significantly lower after the infection and patients with long-term symptoms had a more pronounced negative effect in EQ5D-VAS scores.

Conclusion: We found that most patients with non-severe covid-19 reported symptoms for 1-4 weeks and approximately 10% developed long-term symptoms. Non-severe covid-19 seems to have a negative influence on HR-Qol, especially in patients with long-term symptoms and with a greater burden from the disease. None of the initial symptoms could predict the presence of long-term symptoms.

Keywords: Covid-19; HR-Qol; perception of illness; post-covid; symptoms.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Fatigue / etiology
  • Female
  • Headache / etiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life*