Incidence of post-COVID syndrome and associated symptoms in outpatient care in Bavaria, Germany: a retrospective cohort study using routinely collected claims data

Ewan Donnachie, Alexander Hapfelmeier, Klaus Linde, Martin Tauscher, Roman Gerlach, Anna Greissel, Antonius Schneider

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives To estimate the treatment incidence of post-COVID syndrome (postinfectious sequelae present at least 12 weeks following infection) in the context of ambulatory care in Bavaria, Germany, and to establish whether related diagnoses occur more frequently than in patients with no known history of COVID-19. Design Retrospective cohort analysis of routinely collected claims data. Setting Ambulatory care in Bavaria, Germany, observed from January 2020 to March 2022 (data accessed May 2022). Participants 391 990 patients with confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis, 62 659 patients with other respiratory infection and a control group of 659 579 patients with no confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19. Primary and secondary outcome measures Primary outcome is diagnosis of post-COVID syndrome documented in ambulatory care. Secondary outcomes are: chronic fatigue syndrome, psychological disorder, fatigue, mild cognitive impairment, disturbances of taste and smell, dyspnoea, pulmonary embolism and myalgia. Results Among all patients with confirmed COVID-19, 14.2% (95% CI 14.0% to 14.5%) received a diagnosis of a post-COVID syndrome, and 6.7% (95% CI 6.5% to 6.9%) received the diagnosis in at least two quarterly periods during a 2-year follow-up. Compared with patients with other respiratory infections and with controls, patients with COVID-19 more frequently received a variety of diagnoses including chronic fatigue syndrome (1.6% vs 0.6% and 0.3%, respectively), fatigue (13.3% vs 9.2% and 6.0%), dyspnoea (9.9% vs 5.1% and 3.2%) and disturbances of taste and smell (3.2% vs 1.2% and 0.5%). The treatment incidence of post-COVID syndrome was highest among adults aged 40-59 (19.0%) and lowest among children aged below 12 years (2.6%). Conclusions Our results demonstrate a moderately high incidence of post-COVID syndrome 2 years after COVID-19 diagnosis. There is an urgent need to find efficient and effective solutions to help patients with dyspnoea, fatigue, cognitive impairment and loss of smell. Guidelines and treatment algorithms, including referral criteria, and occupational and physical therapy, require prompt and coherent implementation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere064979
JournalBMJ Open
Volume12
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - 22 Sep 2022

Keywords

  • Epidemiology
  • General medicine (see Internal Medicine)
  • Infectious diseases

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