1. In this umbrella systematic review, several challenges were identified to affect COVID-19 survivors which spanned multiple domains, including psychological, physical, and spiritual.
2. Although this study highlighted several biomedical sequelae, there was a lack of evidence regarding the long-term spiritual impacts of COVID-19 infection.
Evidence Rating Level: 1 (Excellent)
Thousands of individuals have suffered from COVID-19 and have experienced ongoing sequelae as a result. However, currently there is limited research into the impacts of COVID-19 past the acute phase infection, and therefore limited resources to aid survivors. As a result, the objective of the present study was to summarize the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual impacts of COVID-19 beyond 4 weeks of the illness.
Of 4024 identified records, 18 (n=493 articles, n= 295,455 patients) studies were included from database inception to October 2021. All studies that investigated COVID-19 survivors were included, in order to maintain a wide scope. Studies were excluded if they did not look at the impacts of COVID-19 beyond the acute phase, or if they were reviews that were not based on primary empirical studies. The review was performed using PRISMA guidelines and the Joanna Briggs Institute umbrella review method. The primary outcome was the overall impact of the COVID-19 illness in survivors beyond the acute phase.
According to the study results, physical, cognitive, and psychological symptoms were reported beyond the acute phase of COVID-19, including fatigue, dyspnea, depression, anxiety, brain fog, and difficulty concentrating. In addition, there was heterogeneity in the presentation of the aforementioned symptoms, and there were no clear demographic or physical predictors of who would experience symptoms beyond the acute phase infection. Although there were many biomedical sequelae highlighted, there was a lack of evidence regarding the long-term spiritual impacts of COVID-19. As such, the study was limited by an emphasis on physical outcomes which provides mostly a biomedical view of the disease’s effect on patients’ lives. Nonetheless, the present study provided important knowledge to guide future research into the long-term holistic health effects of COVID-19.
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