Researchers from Keele University are to study the impact of the long Covid on ethnic minority groups in the UK. The study aims to explore the daily experiences of people suffering from the lingering effects of the disease.
This will include looking at their symptoms, healthcare, wider support and treatment needs, the impact of the long Covid on their daily lives and the challenges they face in accessing help . Keele academics are working alongside colleagues from the universities of Westminster, Southampton and Queen Mary University of London on the project.
The new research is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and hosted by the Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust as part of the NIHR Research for Patient Benefit Programme. The group aims to raise awareness of the issue of the long Covid among ethnic minority communities, particularly those of Arab, black and South Asian descent.
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Although they were disproportionately affected by acute Covid infections, including higher death rates, long Covid rates are not considered higher among these groups.
The team will conduct one-on-one interviews with people living with the disease, including those who have not had access to long Covid services, to better understand how they manage care and support. They will also explore ways to help people adopt health care approaches that meet the needs of diverse groups, for example by better involving families.
The study will seek to understand which broader support systems, such as religion and traditional healing, are used by minority groups during long Covid to inform better disease management.
Carolyn Chew-Graham, Research Professor of General Medicine at Keele University, said: ‘It is a privilege to be a co-investigator on this work which builds on the work that Dr Tom Kingstone and I conducted in 2020. It is unclear how people of certain ethnic groups are affected by long Covid and this research will help fill this knowledge gap.
Researchers aim to better connect people living with long Covid, healthcare professionals, and informal support systems and networks to promote culturally appropriate healthcare and improve self-management.
Dr Nina Smyth, Senior Researcher and Reader in Health Psychology at the University of Westminster, said: ‘Health experiences and needs differ between ethnic minority groups, and the current management of long-term care of Covid is not yet sufficiently informed by the needs of minorities.
“We need to better understand care and support preferences to imagine better health care and self-management for these groups.”
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