Factors Associated With Long COVID Symptoms in an Online Cohort Study

Open Forum Infect Dis. 2023 Feb 1;10(2):ofad047. doi: 10.1093/ofid/ofad047. eCollection 2023 Feb.


Background: Few prospective studies of Long COVID risk factors have been conducted. The purpose of this study was to determine whether sociodemographic factors, lifestyle, or medical history preceding COVID-19 or characteristics of acute severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection are associated with Long COVID.

Methods: In March 26, 2020, the COVID-19 Citizen Science study, an online cohort study, began enrolling participants with longitudinal assessment of symptoms before, during, and after SARS-CoV-2 infection. Adult participants who reported a positive SARS-CoV-2 test result before April 4, 2022 were surveyed for Long COVID symptoms. The primary outcome was at least 1 prevalent Long COVID symptom greater than 1 month after acute infection. Exposures of interest included age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, employment, socioeconomic status/financial insecurity, self-reported medical history, vaccination status, variant wave, number of acute symptoms, pre-COVID depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug use, sleep, and exercise.

Results: Of 13 305 participants who reported a SARS-CoV-2 positive test, 1480 (11.1%) responded. Respondents' mean age was 53 and 1017 (69%) were female. Four hundred seventy-six (32.2%) participants reported Long COVID symptoms at a median 360 days after infection. In multivariable models, number of acute symptoms (odds ratio [OR], 1.30 per symptom; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.20-1.40), lower socioeconomic status/financial insecurity (OR, 1.62; 95% CI, 1.02-2.63), preinfection depression (OR, 1.08; 95% CI, 1.01-1.16), and earlier variants (OR = 0.37 for Omicron compared with ancestral strain; 95% CI, 0.15-0.90) were associated with Long COVID symptoms.

Conclusions: Variant wave, severity of acute infection, lower socioeconomic status, and pre-existing depression are associated with Long COVID symptoms.

Keywords: COVID-19; Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 (PASC); SARS-CoV-2; long COVID; patient-reported outcomes.