BACKGROUND: Chronic fatigue syndrome is a persistent and debilitating disorder. According to several studies, chronic fatigue syndrome has been identified among recovered COVID-19 patients as the most common symptom of long COVID. The aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis study was to obtain the prevalence of chronic fatigue syndrome in long COVID cases.
METHODS: In this systematic review and meta-analysis, we analysed reported results of studies that assessed the occurrence of chronic fatigue syndrome among COVID-19 patients four weeks after the onset of symptoms. The study selection was commenced by searching PubMed, Web of Science, Science Direct, Scopus, Embase, and Google scholar using the keywords of Chronic fatigue syndrome, COVID-19, and post-COVID-19 syndrome. The searches were without a lower time limit and until April 2022. Heterogeneity of studies was assessed using the I 2 index, and a random effects model was used for analysis. Data analysis was performed within the Comprehensive Meta-Analysis software (version 2).
RESULTS: The pooled prevalence of chronic fatigue syndrome four weeks after the onset of COVID-19 symptoms, in 52 studies with a sample size of 127,117, was 45.2% (95% CI: 34.1-56.9%). Meta-regression analysis in examining the effects of the two factors of sample size, and year of study on the changes in the overall prevalence, showed that with increasing sample size, and year of study, the prevalence of chronic fatigue syndrome among long COVID patients (p < 0.05).
CONCLUSION: Our results show that the overall prevalence of chronic fatigue syndrome as a long COVID symptom is 45.2%. Chronic fatigue after infection with COVID-19 can negatively affect personal and social lives. Given such significant negative consequences caused by the syndrome, it is recommended that health policymakers allocate funds to reduce the adverse effects of this syndrome, by creating programs to support long COVID patients.
Bibliographical note© 2022. The Author(s).
- chronic fatigue syndrome
- systematic review