Recommendations for the recognition, diagnosis, and management of long covid: A Delphi study

  • Nurek M
  • Rayner C
  • Freyer A
  • et al.
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Abstract

Background: In the absence of research into therapies and care pathways for long covid, guidance based on “emerging experience” is needed. Aim: To provide a rapid expert guide for GPs and long covid clinical services. Design: Delphi study. Setting: Primary and secondary care doctors. Method: The authors generated recommendations pertaining to the investigation and management of long covid. These were distributed online to a panel of UK doctors (any specialty) with an interest in, lived experience of, and/or experience treating long covid. Over two rounds of Delphi testing, panellists indicated their agreement with each recommendation (5-point Likert scale) and gave comments. Recommendations eliciting a response of “strongly agree”, “agree”, or “neither agree nor disagree” from ≥90% of respondents were taken as showing consensus. Results: Thirty-three clinicians representing 14 specialties reached consensus on 35 recommendations. Chiefly: GPs should consider long covid in the presence of a wide range of presenting features (not limited to fatigue and breathlessness) and exclude differential diagnoses where appropriate. Detailed history and examination with baseline investigations should be conducted in primary care. Indications for further investigation and specific therapies (for myocarditis, PoTS, mast cell disorder) include hypoxia/desaturation, chest pain, palpitations, and histamine-related symptoms. Rehabilitation should be individualised, with careful activity pacing (to avoid relapse) and multidisciplinary support. Conclusions: Long covid clinics should operate as part of an integrated care system, with GPs playing a key role in the multidisciplinary team. Holistic care pathways, investigation of specific complications, management of potential symptom clusters, and tailored rehabilitation are needed.

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Nurek, M., Rayner, C., Freyer, A., Taylor, S., Järte, L., MacDermott, N., & Delaney, B. (2021). Recommendations for the recognition, diagnosis, and management of long covid: A Delphi study. British Journal of General Practice, BJGP.2021.0265. https://doi.org/10.3399/bjgp.2021.0265

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