Ms Aruska D’souza1, Dr Elizabeth Barson1, Ms Celia Marston1, Ms Lisa Beach1, Dr Katherine Bond1, Associate Professor Catherine Granger1,2, Associate Professor Wendy Bower1,2
1Melbourne Health, Parkville, Australia, 2University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia
Aim: Individuals who contract COVID-19 may experience long-term effects on lung function, physical functioning and emotional well-being. The aim of this study was to identify symptoms persisting after six months, alongside unmet treatment needs, in patients who were not hospitalised at the time of their COVID-19 infection.
Design: A nested observational study of COVID-19 survivors who were managed within the community.
Method: Ten validated metrics were used to collect data via telephone from 80 participants six months after their initial COVID-19 infection. Results are shown as median [interquartile range] or count (percentage).
Results: Of the 45 participants who have completed measures thus far, (56% of recruitment target, 58% female) at six months, 23 (51%) of participants reported experiencing anxiety and/or depression. Median Fatigue Severity scores were 34 [29 – 39] (fatigue cut off >35, maximum score 63) and participants reported worse fatigue (p < 0.001) at 6-months than when compared to the month before COVID-19 diagnosis. Most patients (n = 34, 76%) did not have a cough at 6-months post COVID-19 diagnosis. Participants were able to walk (35, 78%), carry out their usual activity (28, 62%) and complete self-care (42, 93%) independently. Telephone Montreal Cognitive Assessment scores (maximum score 22) were 19 [18-20]. Overall, 10 (22%) of participants were newly referred to psychology, and 9 (20%) referred for community exercise therapy.
Conclusion: Anxiety and fatigue remain common 6-months post non-hospitalised COVID-19. There is an unaddressed psychological and physical impact in these patients.
Ms D’Souza is a senior physiotherapist who graduated from La Trobe University in 2010 and has worked in the public health system for over ten years. She was the successful recipient of a $60,000 grant through the Royal Melbourne Hospital Mary Elizabeth Watson Early Career Fellowship in Allied Health and commenced a PhD part time at the University of Melbourne. Her topic of interest is predicting discharge destination from acute general medical wards. She is the lead researcher in a systematic review, two observational studies and is also currently involved with physical activity and falls research in the elderly as well as long term outcomes of COVID-19 research.