Purpose is to understand post-COVID symptom evolution and impact on patients’ lives
As of Sept. 20, 2022, there have been more than 1.1 million cases of COVID-19 in Quebec. It is estimated that 10 to 30 per cent of cases will have lingering symptoms after the acute illness. This means that as many as 330,000 Quebecers may experience what’s become known as long COVID, or post-COVID-19 syndrome.
To assess the evolution of symptoms and their impact on people’s lives, as well as to offer self-management strategies for the most common issues, a team of researchers is recruiting participants for a new study. The Quebec Action for Post-COVID (QAPC) study is seeking men and women living in Quebec, aged 18 years and older who report the presence of symptoms that developed during or after their COVID-19 infection, lasting more than four weeks and that cannot be explained by another diagnosis.
Participants will be asked to answer online questionnaires and cognitive tests by computer every three months for 18 months. The researchers will collect data on symptoms and impact on quality of life, as well as test sense of smell, memory, and problem-solving abilities. Participants will receive a personalized “dashboard” summarizing their symptom profile and have access to online tools to help them manage their symptoms.
“‘Brain fog’ and trouble concentrating seem to be common post-COVID symptoms,” says Lesley Fellows, MDCM, DPhil, Professor in the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery at McGill University and a neurologist at The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital). “We need to better understand these cognitive concerns and how they relate to mental and physical health in general. This will allow us to identify the underlying causes and help people return to their usual functions.”
Study participants will also have the option of using a smartphone app to provide a more detailed picture of long COVID’s impact on their symptoms and their level of physical activity from day to day.
“Regularly assessing key symptoms and physical function may help people better understand the factors that make them feel better or worse, day-to-day,” adds Nancy Mayo, PhD, Professor in the Department of Medicine and the School of Physical and Occupational Therapy at McGill and scientist at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC). “This information, together with self-management tools, may help people find the path to recovery to works for them.”
The goal of the research is to improve the lives of people with long COVID. The researchers believe many of the symptoms can be improved with existing rehabilitation and lifestyle interventions. The study will offer online resources and strategies to help people get back on track.
“Post-COVID symptoms can take a heavy toll on both physical and mental health,” says Marie- Josée Brouillette, MD, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University and a scientist at the RI-MUHC. “Our study takes a holistic approach and aims to empower participants in managing their symptoms to improve function and quality of life.”
COVID has hit some communities harder than others and it is important that long COVID research includes those communities. This study is fully virtual; there are no in-person visits. The researchers hope this will make it easier for people from diverse backgrounds to participate, so that the results will benefit people from all walks of life.
Find out more or sign up to participate through the study website: https://post-covid.quebec/en/home/ or by emailing: post-covid.mni [at] mcgill.ca
This study is being financially supported by Les Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé and Scotiabank.