Publication date: Dec 23, 2023
Long COVID is a multisystem condition that has multiple consequences for the physical, mental, and social health of COVID-19 survivors. The impact of the long COVID condition remains unclear, particularly among middle-aged and older adults, who are at greater risk than younger people of persisting symptoms associated with COVID-19. Therefore, we aimed to understand the experiences of middle-aged and older people who had been hospitalized for COVID-19 and the repercussions of long-term COVID symptoms in their daily lives. A qualitative study was carried out, adopting the framework of the constructivist grounded theory (CGT) proposed by Kathy Charmaz. Fifty-six middle-aged and older adult participants from the southern region of Brazil were recruited. Data were gathered from semi-structured telephone interviews. Concomitantly a comparative analysis was performed to identify categories and codes using the MaxQDA software (version 2022). Three subcategories were identified: (1) experiencing COVID-19 in the acute phase; (2) oscillating between ‘good days’ and ‘bad days’ in long COVID; and (3) (re)constructing identity. These concepts interact with each other and converge upon the central category of this study: recasting oneself to the uniqueness of the illness experience of long COVID. Our findings provided insights related to the disruption in the lives of long COVID-19 sufferers who still live with persistent symptoms of the disease, including physical, social, family, emotional and spiritual repercussions. Likewise, this study may aid in developing friendly and welcoming social environments, lowering stigma and prejudice towards patients with long COVID, and fostering prompt and suitable policy support and mental health care for these individuals.
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