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    The interactive effects of post-traumatic stress symptoms and breathlessness on fatigue severity in post-COVID-19 syndrome

    Harenwall, Sari, Heywood-Everett, Suzanne, Henderson, Rebecca, Smith, Joanne, McEnery, Rachel and Bland, Amy R (2022) The interactive effects of post-traumatic stress symptoms and breathlessness on fatigue severity in post-COVID-19 syndrome. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 11 (20). p. 6214. ISSN 2077-0383

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    Background: Post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) and breathlessness have been well documented in the acute phase of COVID-19 as well as in Post-COVID-19 Syndrome (PCS), commonly known as Long-COVID. The present study aimed to explore whether PTSS and breathlessness interact to exacerbate fatigue among individuals recovering from PCS, similar to the effects evidenced in other health conditions that feature respiratory distress.. Methods: Outcome measures were collected from 154 participants reporting persistent fatigue following acute COVID-19 infection who were enrolled in a 7-week rehabilitation course provided by the Primary Care Wellbeing Service (PCWBS) in Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust (BDCFT). Results: Hierarchical multiple linear regression revealed that fatigue severity was associated with a significant interaction between PTSS and breathlessness, even when controlling for pre-COVID health related quality of life (HRQoL), age, symptom duration and hospital admittance during the acute phase. Furthermore, improvements in fatigue following rehabilitation were significantly associated with improvements in PTSS. Conclusions: PTSS may be an important therapeutic target in multidisciplinary rehabilitation for reducing fatigue in the recovery from PCS. It is therefore important that treatment for PCS takes a biopsychosocial approach to recovery, putting emphasis on direct and indirect psychological factors which may facilitate or disrupt physical recovery. This highlights the need for all PCS clinics to screen for PTSD and if present, target as a priority in treatment to maximise the potential for successful rehabilitation.

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