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How to measure improvement in long COVID

Researchers have reached an agreement on how to measure the severity and impact of long COVID by identifying a “Core Outcome Measure Set” (COMS).

The research, published in Lancet Respiratory Medicine, is co-led by the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London and carried out in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO).

COMS is designed to help researchers and clinicians measure symptoms and impacts of disorders, such as long COVID, in the same way. This optimises how data can be compared and summarised. Researchers say the new COMS will accelerate the understanding of, and the development of treatments for, long COVID.

Common symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, pain, exercise intolerance and cognitive dysfunction, but patients can experience a wide range of other symptoms across all bodily systems, making identification of the key symptoms, and how to measure them, challenging.

The study involved identifying the ways in which long COVID and its symptoms and impacts have been measured to date, selecting the most popular ones that could be used in all settings and then summarising and presenting these to a large international group of experts and patients in a series of surveys. Then, in a final consensus meeting, identifying, where possible, agreement on the best measurement instrument.

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