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BACKGROUND: Understanding the physical and mental health needs of the population through evidence-based research is a priority for informing health policy. During the COVID-19 pandemic, population wellbeing dramatically dropped. The relationship between experiences of symptomatic illness episodes and health-related quality of life has been less documented. OBJECTIVE: This study analysed the association between symptomatic COVID-19 illness and health-related quality of life. METHODS: The analyses drew from a cross-sectional analysis of data from a national digital symptoms' surveillance survey conducted in the UK in 2020. We identified illness episodes using symptoms and test results data and we analysed validated health-related quality of life outcomes including health utility scores (indexed on a 0-1 cardinal scale) and visual analogue scale (VAS) scores (0-100 scale) generated by the EuroQoL's EQ-5D-5L measure. The econometric model controlled for respondents' demographic and socioeconomic characteristics, comorbidities, social isolation measures, and regional and time fixed effects. RESULTS: The results showed that the experience of common SARS-CoV-2 symptoms was significantly associated with poorer health-related quality of life across all EQ-5D-5L dimensions of mobility, self-care, usual activities, pain/discomfort and anxiety/depression, a decrement in utility score of - 0.13 and a decrement in the EQ-VAS score of - 15. The findings were robust to sensitivity analyses and restrictive test results-based definitions. CONCLUSION: This evidence-based study highlights the need for targeting of interventions and services towards those experiencing symptomatic episodes during future waves of the pandemic and helps to quantify the benefits of SARS-CoV-2 treatment in terms of health-related quality of life.

Original publication





Appl Health Econ Health Policy

Publication Date





761 - 771


Humans, Quality of Life, SARS-CoV-2, Health Status, Cross-Sectional Studies, Pandemics, COVID-19, Surveys and Questionnaires