Fatigue and symptom-based clusters in post COVID-19 patients: a multicentre, prospective, observational cohort study.

Fatigue and symptom-based clusters in post COVID-19 patients: a multicentre, prospective, observational cohort study.

Publication date: Feb 21, 2024

In the Netherlands, the prevalence of post COVID-19 condition is estimated at 12. 7% at 90-150 days after SARS-CoV-2 infection. This study aimed to determine the occurrence of fatigue and other symptoms, to assess how many patients meet the Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) criteria, to identify symptom-based clusters within the P4O2 COVID-19 cohort and to compare these clusters with clusters in a ME/CFS cohort. In this multicentre, prospective, observational cohort in the Netherlands, 95 post COVID-19 patients aged 40-65 years were included. Data collection at 3-6 months after infection included demographics, medical history, questionnaires, and a medical examination. Follow-up assessments occurred 9-12 months later, where the same data were collected. Fatigue was determined with the Fatigue Severity Scale (FSS), a score of ≥ 4 means moderate to high fatigue. The frequency and severity of other symptoms and the percentage of patients that meet the ME/CFS criteria were assessed using the DePaul Symptom Questionnaire-2 (DSQ-2). A self-organizing map was used to visualize the clustering of patients based on severity and frequency of 79 symptoms. In a previous study, 337 Dutch ME/CFS patients were clustered based on their symptom scores. The symptom scores of post COVID-19 patients were applied to these clusters to examine whether the same or different clusters were found. According to the FSS, fatigue was reported by 75. 9% of the patients at 3-6 months after infection and by 57. 1% of the patients 9-12 months later. Post-exertional malaise, sleep disturbances, pain, and neurocognitive symptoms were also frequently reported, according to the DSQ-2. Over half of the patients (52. 7%) met the Fukuda criteria for ME/CFS, while fewer patients met other ME/CFS definitions. Clustering revealed specific symptom patterns and showed that post COVID-19 patients occurred in 11 of the clusters that have been observed in the ME/CFS cohort, where 2 clusters had > 10 patients. This study shows persistent fatigue and diverse symptomatology in post COVID-19 patients, up to 12-18 months after SARS-CoV-2 infection. Clustering showed that post COVID-19 patients occurred in 11 of the clusters that have been observed in the ME/CFS cohort.

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Concepts Keywords
18months Clusters
Dutch Fatigue
Neurocognitive Long COVID
Sleep ME/CFS
Persistent symptoms
Post COVID-19 condition
Post-viral condition

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