Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, EHSRC researchers have been doing important work to understand and treat this illness. Below are some recent activities by center members. Check out our Response to COVID-19 page to read more.
Alejandro Comellas contributed to a study on post-COVID brain fog and fatigue, revealing a negative impact on daily activities, work/employment and interpersonal relationships. Post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 (PASC) is a poorly understood condition with significant impact on quality of life. This study aimed to better understand the lived experiences of patients with PASC, focusing on the impact of cognitive complaints (“brain fog”) and fatigue on (1) daily activities, (2) work/employment, and (3) interpersonal relationships. The team conducted semi-structured qualitative interviews with 15 patients of a Midwestern academic hospital’s post-COVID-19 clinic. Participants frequently used descriptive and metaphorical language to describe symptoms that were relapsing-remitting and unpredictable. Fatigue and brain fog affected all domains and identified subthemes included symptoms’ synergistic effects, difficulty with multitasking, lack of support, poor self-perception, and fear of loss of income and employment. Personal relationships were affected with change of responsibilities, difficulty parenting, social isolation, and guilt due to the burdens placed on family. Furthermore, underlying social stigma contributed to negative emotions, which significantly affected emotional and mental health. Our findings highlight PASC’s negative impact on patients’ daily lives.
Gary Pierce participated in a study team to evaluate the activity levels of college students during the pandemic. The Activity Questionnaire for Adults and Adolescents estimated physical activity and sedentary time before, early, and later in the pandemic. Barriers and facilitators to physical activity were assessed at early and later timepoints. Open-ended questions examined additional impacts. Comparing before vs. early/later pandemic assessments, respondents reported a significant decrease in physical activity metabolic equivalent (MET)-minutes/week and a significant increase in sedentary MET-minutes/week. The top barrier was schoolwork (47.7%). The top facilitator was social support (21.5%). Responses to open-ended questions indicated that most individuals reported sitting more during the pandemic, with variation in physical activity patterns. Adverse changes in physical activity and sedentary behavior observed early in the pandemic were sustained.
Paul Romitti co-authored a publication reporting a study on the relationship between trimester of SARS-CoV-2 infection, illness severity, and risk for preterm birth. Data was analyzed for 6336 pregnant persons with SARS-CoV-2 infection in 2020 in the United States. The study found that pregnant persons with critical COVID-19 or asymptomatic infection, compared to mild COVID-19, in the second or third trimester were at increased risk of preterm birth. Pregnant persons with moderate-to-severe COVID-19 did not show increased risk of preterm birth in any trimester.
Julia Klesney-Tait was part of a study to determine whether recipients of lung transplantation (LT) for COVID-19-related lung disease have comparable outcomes to other recipients with a similar level of lung dysfunction. Lung transplantation is an acceptable and potentially life-saving treatment option for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)-induced acute respiratory distress syndrome and pulmonary fibrosis. A total of 37,333 LT candidates from all causes were compared with 334 candidates from COVID-19-related respiratory failure. COVID-19 recipients were more likely to be younger (50 vs 57 years), male (79% vs 60%), require extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (56.3% vs 4.0%), and have worse lung function (lung allocation score, 82.4 vs 47.8) at transplantation. Patients who received a transplant for COVID-19 had similar rates of mechanical ventilation, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, postoperative complications, and functional status at discharge compared with controls. There was no difference in overall survival or risk of death from COVID-19.
Brandi Janssen contributed to a study on how the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic affected food availability and accessibility for many older adults, especially those experiencing food insecurity. Food citizenship is a theoretical framework that encourages the use of alternate over industrial food sources and can characterize where foods are acquired and how food choices are made. The purpose of this study is to explore how Iowans aged 50 years and older made choices about what foods to acquire and where to acquire foods during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic using food citizenship as a theoretical framework.