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Research to better support long Covid patients in Scotland


By Lorna Thompson

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A £296,000 cross-university study will be undertaken in four Scottish health boards, including NHS Grampian, to find out what works for patients struggling with long Covid.

For most people, symptoms of Covid-19 go after around 12 weeks.

However, some people experience symptoms that last longer, or develop new symptoms.

Evidence is still emerging on the nature and extent of long Covid, and how best to manage it.

The researchers will investigate emerging models of rehabilitation for people suffering from long Covid to recommend how to best maximise recovery and quality of life for patients across Scotland.

Funded by the Scottish Government’s Chief Scientist Office, researchers at Robert Gordon University and the University of Stirling will examine models of community rehabilitation delivered by physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and other health professionals to find out what works for long-Covid patients under their individual circumstances.

The principal investigators for the project are Professor Kay Cooper, clinical professor of allied health professions at the Robert Gordon University and NHS Grampian, and Dr Edward Duncan, associate professor of applied health research at the University of Stirling.

Professor Kay Cooper, clinical professor of allied health professions, Robert Gordon University and NHS Grampian.
Professor Kay Cooper, clinical professor of allied health professions, Robert Gordon University and NHS Grampian.

Prof Cooper said: "Community rehabilitation for people with long Covid is in its infancy, with service models developing and evolving as we learn more about the long-term consequences of Covid-19.

"A variety of models are being used in Scotland and this research will help us understand what works in different settings and contexts.

"Rehabilitation services are pivotal to supporting people in their recovery.

"By assessing the various models being used, we can make evidence-based recommendations to maximise quality of life and recovery for people with long Covid across Scotland through the most appropriate models of rehabilitation for service users’ circumstances."

Dr Duncan said: "There are many possible symptoms after a Covid-19 infection, from breathing difficulties to extreme fatigue and mental health problems. How long it takes to recover from Covid-19 is different for everybody – some symptoms can last weeks or even months after infection.

"The chances of experiencing long-term symptoms does not appear to be linked to how ill someone was when the infection took place.

"People who had mild symptoms initially can still have long-term problems. Some people will need rehabilitation to support and maximise their recovery.

"At present, we do not know how best to support recovery from long Covid and different health boards are providing rehabilitation in different ways.

"Our study aims to discover what works best for people across Scotland."

The research will be undertaken in four health boards areas – Grampian, Ayrshire and Arran, Lanarkshire, Tayside – but the research team will share emerging findings with all of the country’s health boards.


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