The Assessment of Post-COVID Fatigue and Its Relationship to the Severity and Duration of Acute COVID Illness

J Clin Med. 2023 Sep 12;12(18):5910. doi: 10.3390/jcm12185910.


Emerging data suggests that COVID-19 is associated with fatigue well beyond the acute illness period. The present analysis aimed to: (1) characterize the prevalence and incidence of high fatigue at baseline and follow-up; (2) examine the impact of COVID-19 diagnosis on fatigue level following acute illness; and (3) examine the impact of acute COVID-19 symptom severity and duration on fatigue at follow-up. Subjects (n = 1417; 81.0% female; 83.3% White; X¯age = 43.6 years) completed the PROMIS-Fatigue during the initial wave of the pandemic at baseline (April-June 2020) and 9-month follow-up (January-March 2021). A generalized linear model (binomial distribution) was used to examine whether COVID-19 positivity, severity, and duration were associated with higher fatigue level at follow-up. Prevalence of high fatigue at baseline was 21.88% and 22.16% at follow-up, with 8.12% new cases at follow-up. Testing positive for COVID-19 was significantly associated with higher fatigue at follow-up. COVID-19 symptom duration and severity were significantly associated with increased fatigue at follow-up. COVID-19 symptom duration and severity during acute illness may precipitate longer-term fatigue, which could have implications for treatment planning and future research. Future studies should further evaluate the relationship between symptom severity, duration, and fatigue.

Keywords: COVID-19; fatigue; long COVID; stress.