An ongoing study published in Frontiers in Public Health revealed racial and ethnic disparities in symptoms, activity levels, health status, and missed work among individuals recovering from a SARS-CoV-2 infection in the United States of America (USA).
The researchers assessed these disparities through follow-up examinations after an initial SARS-CoV-2 infection. While the symptoms were equally widespread across all groups, Hispanic participants reported poorer health status and reduced activity three and six months after the infection compared to non-Hispanic participants. Additionally, ethnic minority participants reported more negative impacts on health status, activity, and work absence compared to the white population.
The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored inequalities, revealing that ethnic and racial minority populations face higher infection risks due to the essential nature of their work, limited telecommuting opportunities, and challenges in practicing social distancing. Infected individuals have encountered obstacles in obtaining care, including underinsurance and a lack of primary care, with economic consequences. Health outcomes have exhibited disparities as well, with higher hospitalization and mortality rates among black and Hispanic populations.
Despite these challenges, post-recovery differences following a SARS-CoV-2 infection have been inadequately studied. The existing studies have limitations such as varying follow-up durations, inconsistent results, and inadequate consideration of social health determinants. The researchers aimed to address this gap by evaluating symptoms and health-related effects across all ethnicities and races and steering effective fair health interventions.
About the Study
The study conducted a secondary analysis using data from the „Innovative Support for Patients with SARS-CoV-2 Infections Registry“ (INSPIRE), a US-based prospective, multicenter longitudinal cohort study. The primary cohort included adults who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 between December 2020 and July 2022, alongside a SARS-CoV-2 negative group for the consideration of non-SARS-CoV-2 related effects.
A total of 3,161 participants completed the registration and reported symptoms and other outcomes through surveys every three months. Among them, 2,402 were SARS-CoV-2 positive, and 759 were SARS-CoV-2 negative. Ethnicity and race data were collected, and interactions between ethnicity or race and SARS-CoV-2 infection status were considered.
Results and Discussion
The study found that the symptoms following a SARS-CoV-2 infection were largely similar across ethnic and racial groups over time. Hispanic individuals were more likely to report a fair/poor health status and reduced activity three months after compared to non-Hispanic individuals. However, no significant differences were observed after six months.
Other racial groups showed higher odds of reporting fair/poor health status and reduced activity compared to white participants. The results contribute to better understanding ethnic and racial differences in outcomes after a SARS-CoV-2 infection and could serve as a basis for clinical and public health initiatives and policies. However, the study has limitations such as small sample sizes in ethnic and racial subgroups, potential issues with participant representativeness, and the lack of adjustment for health insurance and frontline worker status.
In conclusion, while the symptom prevalence was similar across groups, ethnic and racial minority groups had negative impacts on health status, activity levels, and work absences compared to non-Hispanic or white population. Examining the underlying factors contributing to these differences could support efforts to promote health equity and enhance our preparedness for future pandemics.
- O’Laughlin KN, Klabbers RE, Mannan IE, et al. (2024). Ethnische und rassische Unterschiede in Bezug auf selbstberichtete Symptome, Gesundheitszustand, Aktivitätsniveau und versäumte Arbeit 3 und 6 Monate nach der SARS-CoV-2-Infektion. Grenzen in der öffentlichen Gesundheit. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2023.1324636. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpubh.2023.1324636/full