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Supporting patients with long COVID return to work.


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Post-COVID-19 syndrome, often called ‘long COVID’ refers to signs and/or symptoms that develop following COVID-19 infection, which continue for more than 12 weeks and are not explained by an alternative diagnosis.1 Long COVID presents with clusters of symptoms, often overlapping, can affect any system in the body, and fluctuate in time and severity. Symptoms of long COVID that commonly impact on function and may impede return to work (including travel to and from work) include fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain, and neurocognitive impairment.1

This article presents the guiding principles of supporting people with long COVID to return to work based on a review of the current literature and guidance from the Faculty of Occupational Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians.2 Return to work can be an effective part of rehabilitation from illness and is generally good for health, providing a sense of purpose, boosting self-esteem, and enabling financial independence.

The risk of falling out of work increases steeply with the length of time someone has been on sick leave, with the probability of a person not being able to return to work reaching approximately 50% after 6 months of sick leave.3 It is therefore important to note that a person can begin the return to work process before they are 100% fit. Many people can work effectively despite significant illness or disability, particularly if they are provided with suitable support in the workplace.


Chew-Graham. (2021). Supporting patients with long COVID return to work. British Journal of General Practice (BJGP), 508 - 509.

Acceptance Date Oct 28, 2021
Publication Date Nov 1, 2021
Journal British Journal of General Practice
Print ISSN 0960-1643
Publisher Royal College of General Practitioners
Pages 508 - 509
Publisher URL


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