Over 645 million people worldwide have been infected with SARS-CoV-2,
the virus that causes COVID-19. Critical knowledge gaps regarding the
characteristics, duration, and impact of symptoms due to “long COVID”.
This study evaluated the persistence of symptoms at one year following
hospitalization with COVID-19, comparing responses on standardized
measurement tools to population norms. Adults hospitalized with COVID-19
March-October 2020 during the initial emergence period in Southeast
Michigan were eligible. A detailed survey was conducted via telephone
9-15 months after hospital discharge. Questions assessed fatigue,
dyspnea, and physical functioning related to their COVID-19 illness. The
median World Health Organization Disability Assessment Schedule (WHODAS)
polytomous score placed 50% (n=20/40) of participants in the 90
th percentile of disability based on population norms.
The mean SF-36 physical functioning score was almost nine points below
population norms (mean=70.6, standard deviation=27.4). Additionally,
47.5% of individuals (n=19) were severely emotionally affected by their
health condition. Over half of participants surveyed were still impacted
a year after initial infection, experiencing limited functional ability,
fatigue, and emotional difficulties. Given the impact of these symptoms
on day-to-day quality of life, further studies are needed to develop
strategies for treatment and management of post-COVID conditions.