The Long COVID experience from a patient's perspective: a clustering analysis of 27,216 Reddit posts


Ayadi H., Bour C., Fischer A., Ghoniem M., Fagherazzi G.


Frontiers in Public Health, vol. 11, art. no. 1227807, 2023


Objective: This work aims to study the profiles of Long COVID from the perspective of the patients spontaneously sharing their experiences and symptoms on Reddit. Methods: We collected 27,216 posts shared between July 2020 and July 2022 on Long COVID-related Reddit forums. Natural language processing, clustering techniques and a Long COVID symptoms lexicon were used to extract the different symptoms and categories of symptoms and to study the co-occurrences and correlation between them. Results: More than 78% of the posts mentioned at least one Long COVID symptom. Fatigue (29.4%), pain (22%), clouded consciousness (19.1%), anxiety (17.7%) and headaches (15.6%) were the most prevalent symptoms. They also highly co-occurred with a variety of other symptoms (e.g., fever, sinonasal congestion). Different categories of symptoms were found: general (45.5%), neurological/ocular (42.9%), mental health/psychological/behavioral (35.2%), body pain/mobility (35.1%) and cardiorespiratory (31.2%). Posts focusing on other concerns of the community such as vaccine, recovery and relapse and, symptom triggers were detected. Conclusions: We demonstrated the benefits of leveraging large volumes of data from Reddit to characterize the heterogeneity of Long COVID profiles. General symptoms, particularly fatigue, have been reported to be the most prevalent and frequently co-occurred with other symptoms. Other concerns, such as vaccination and relapse following recovery, were also addressed by the Long COVID community.



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