In 2021, the NHS Race and Health Observatory partnered with the United Kingdom Research Study into Ethnicity and COVID-19 Outcomes in Healthcare Workers (UK-REACH), to undertake a longitudinal study looking at the impacts of long-COVID on the physical and mental health of healthcare workers, and the broader impacts to their working, social and family lives.
This report, produced in partnership with the University of Leicester, the University of Nottingham, and UCL, presents the first six-monthly update on the REACH-OUT programme, outlining the rationale and methodology that will drive the work.
Healthcare workers (HCWs), particularly those from ethnic minority backgrounds, are at increased risk of COVID-19 infection and adverse outcomes. A proportion of COVID-19 survivors experience prolonged symptoms, a condition now widely known as “long COVID”. The estimated burden of long COVID, and related poor mental, physical and occupational outcomes in HCWs is likely to be large, and to significantly impact on the delivery of safe and high-quality care. However, these impacts on HCWs and on the health service and patient care are as yet unknown.
This study aims to estimate the prevalence of long COVID among HCWs, characterise the syndrome, and understand the impacts of medium-term and post-acute/long COVID illness on the mental, physical, and occupational health of diverse communities of HCWs in the UK, and their work and home lives.
This is a mixed-methods study which will include:
- a systematic review and meta-analysis to estimate the prevalence of long COVID among HCWs globally and identify symptoms of long COVID (and their clustering);
- analysing baseline and follow-up questionnaire data by conducting a longitudinal quantitative survey study to estimate the prevalence of long COVID in HCWs, and whether this differs by age, sex, ethnicity and occupation;
- conducting qualitative research with HCWs, their families and their colleagues to understand the short- and medium-term impacts of long COVID. We will use the evidence generated to better understand how HCWs can be supported as they recover, and to make policy recommendations to support the recovery of the health care system.
This report is the first update report of a three-year study which will complete in 2024.
Two of the reports have now been published and can be downloaded below. Report one focuses on outlining the rationale and methodology that will drive the work and report two includes an exploration of global research about long COVID and outlines some implications for health and care policy.