Image description: The photo shows a person wearing a medical mask suffering from long covid. The 2nd picture shows a person seeking support online for Long Covid. The title reads Researchers develop online tool for long Covid. ME Association logo bottom right.

Researchers develop online tool for Long Covid

An online tool to support people living with Long Covid aims to encourage people to seek help from healthcare professionals if they are not already receiving care. Based on UK research studies into the condition and its impact, particularly in minority ethnic groups, the tool includes a symptom checker and advice on seeking support. It may also be useful for those who are already accessing treatment or care for long Covid as well as healthcare professionals looking to learn more about the difficulties people may face when trying to get support, said the researchers at the University of Southampton who developed it.

PULSE by Emma Wilkinson

Article extracts

Professor Nisreen Alwan, professor of public health at the University of Southampton, has first-hand experience of the condition and says people with long Covid can feel very alone.

‘Long covid can be extremely debilitating and can be very hard to talk about, as there is stigma attached.

‘There are possibly many, many people out there who are not aware they have long Covid.

‘And many others who are not seeking any help due to not being sure about what is causing their symptoms, or not thinking their symptoms are serious enough to warrant medical attention from already overstretched services, or thinking that there is no cure so there’s no point in seeking help.’

Dr Donna Clutterbuck, a population health sciences research fellow whose study fed into development of the tool, said she hoped it would encourage people to seek professional help, as well as making healthcare professionals more aware of the complex issues around asking for support.

‘Anyone suffering from other post-viral illnesses could find this tool useful as well. I am really keen for the tool to be disseminated in communities to help achieve more equality in access to care and support.’

A study that was done at Keele University looking at the effect of Long Covid on ethnic minority populations was also used to inform the tool around on issues of self-doubt, stigma and impact on mental health.

Professor Carolyn Chew-Graham, a GP and professor of general practice research at Keele University, said:

‘We hope this tool is valuable for people with symptoms following an acute Covid-19 infection, people living with long Covid as well as clinicians in primary and secondary care who play a key role in supporting people living with the disabling symptoms.'

She told Pulse that new tool would be important for primary care teams to signpost patients to given the Your Covid Recovery information was being retired from the NHS website and it was unclear whether the resources would remain accessible.

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