Quality of life and ability to work of patients with Post-COVID syndrome in relation to the number of existing symptoms and the duration since infection up to 12 months: a cross-sectional study

Qual Life Res. 2023 Mar 3;1-12. doi: 10.1007/s11136-023-03369-2. Online ahead of print.


Purpose: Following SARS-CoV-2 virus infection, patients may suffer from long-lasting symptoms regardless of disease severity. Preliminary results show limitations in health-related quality of life (HRQoL). The aim of this study is to show a possible change depending on the duration since infection and the accumulation of symptoms. Additionally, other possible influencing factors will be analyzed.

Methods: The study population consisted of patients (18-65 years) presenting to the Post-COVID outpatient clinic of the University Hospital Jena, Germany, between March and October 2021. The HRQoL was assessed by the use of the RehabNeQ and the SF-36. Data analysis was descriptive with frequencies, means, and/or percentages. In addition, a univariate analysis of variance was performed to show the dependence of physical and psychological HRQoL on specific factors. This was finally tested for significance at an alpha level of 5%.

Results: Data from 318 patients were analyzed, most of whom had 3-6 months of infection (56%) and 5-10 symptoms persisted (60.4%). Both mental (MCS) and physical sum score (PCS) of HRQoL were significantly lower than those of the German normal population (p < .001). The number of remaining symptoms (MCS p = .0034, PCS p = .000) as well as the perceived ability to work (MCS p = .007, PCS p = .000) influenced the HRQoL.

Conclusion: The HRQoL of patients with Post-COVID-syndrome is still reduced months after infection and so is their occupational performance. In particular, the number of symptoms could have an influence on this deficit, which would need to be further investigated. Further research is needed to detect other factors influencing HRQoL and to implement appropriate therapeutic interventions.

Keywords: COVID-19; Health-related quality of Life; Long-term complication; Work ability.