Long COVID, A Comprehensive Systematic Scoping Review
Despite more than one year passed since the first cases of SARS-CoV-2 were reported, there is still no consensus on the definition and clinical management of post-acute-COVID-19. The condition has heterogeneously been named as Chronic COVID syndrome, Post COVID-19 Syndrome, post-acute sequela of SARS-CoV-2 (PASC), and the more familiar long COVID. Method: In order to capture all relevant published studies, we undertook a multi-step search with no language restriction. The following four-step
... lowing four-step search strategy was utilized: First, a preliminary (limited) search was conducted on January 20, 2021, in Google Scholar and PubMed to identify the appropriate keywords. Then, on January 30, 2021, we adopted a search strategy of electronic databases from Cochrane Library, PsycINFO, PubMed, Embase, Scopus, and Web of sciences, using those keywords. Then, after duplicate removal, we screened all titles, abstracts, and full texts. This resulted in 66 eligible studies. Subsequently, after a forward and backward search of their references and citations an additional 54 publications were found, resulting in a total of 120 publications that formed the basis of the present analysis. The titles, abstracts, and full-texts of non-English articles were translated using Google Translate for further evaluation. We conducted our scoping review based on the PRISMA-ScR Checklist.Results: We found only one randomized clinical trial in our search. Of the 67 original studies, 22 were cohort and 28 were cross-sectional studies totaling 74.6% of the original studies. Of the total of 120 publications, 59 (49.1%) focused on signs and symptoms, 28 (23.3%) were focused on management, and 13 (10.8%) focused on pathophysiology. Ten (9%) publications focused on imaging studies. Ninety-one percent of the original investigations came from high and upper-middle-income countries, highlighting the scarcity of reports originating from low-income and lower-middle-income countries.Conclusion: The predominant symptoms among those with the so-called “Long COVID” were: fatigue, breathlessness, arthralgia, sleep difficulties, and chest pain. Recent reports also point to the risk of long-term sequela with cutaneous, respiratory, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, mental health, neurologic, and renal involvement in those who survive the acute phase of the illness. The ambiguity and controversies in its definition have impaired proper recognition and management of those requiring additional support following the resolution of the acute phase of this infection. This has resulted in long-standing distress for the patients and their families. Our findings highlight the need for a multidisciplinary approach, support, and rehabilitation for these patients in terms of long-term mental and physical health.