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Patients’ perspectives on life and recovery 1 year after COVID-19 hospitalization

Journal of General Internal Medicine June 2, 2023

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Research Areas


BACKGROUND: Many patients hospitalized for COVID-19 experience prolonged symptoms months after discharge. Little is known about patients’ personal experiences recovering from COVID-19 in the United States (US), where medically underserved populations are at particular risk of adverse outcomes.

OBJECTIVE: To explore patients’ perspectives on the impact of COVID-19 hospitalization and barriers to and facilitators of recovery 1 year after hospital discharge in a predominantly Black American study population with high neighborhood-level socioeconomic disadvantage.

DESIGN: Qualitative study utilizing individual, semi-structured interviews.

PARTICIPANTS: Adult patients hospitalized for COVID-19 approximately 1 year after discharge home who were engaged in a COVID-19 longitudinal cohort study.

KEY RESULTS: Of 24 participants, 17 (71%) self-identified as Black, and 13 (54%) resided in neighborhoods with the most severe neighborhood-level socioeconomic disadvantage. One year after discharge, participants described persistent deficits in physical, cognitive, or psychological health that impacted their current lives. Repercussions included financial suffering and a loss of identity. Participants reported that clinicians often focused on physical health over cognitive and psychological health, an emphasis that posed a barrier to recovering holistically. Facilitators of recovery included robust financial or social support systems and personal agency in health maintenance. Spirituality and gratitude were common coping mechanisms.

CONCLUSIONS: Persistent health deficits after COVID-19 resulted in downstream consequences in participants’ lives. Though participants received adequate care to address physical needs, many described persistent unmet cognitive and psychological needs. A more comprehensive understanding of barriers and facilitators for COVID-19 recovery, contextualized by specific healthcare and socioeconomic needs related to socioeconomic disadvantage, is needed to better inform intervention delivery to patients that experience long-term sequelae of COVID-19 hospitalization.


University of Pennsylvania Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics
Kings College London


Carolyn P Chow, Christopher F Chesley, Michaela Ward, Rebecca Neergaard, Taara V Prasad, Erich M Dress, Sara Reagan, Priyanka Kalyani, Nathan Smyk, Alexandra P Turner, Roseline S Agyekum, Caroline A G Ittner, Danielle K Sandsmark, Nuala J Meyer, Michael O Harhay, Rachel Kohn, Catherine L Auriemma