Background: A large sample of “mild” COVID-19 patients still experience multiple symptoms months after being infected. These persistent symptoms are associated with many clinically relevant outcomes, including poor health status and impaired functional status. To date, no information is available about care dependency. Therefore, we aimed to explore the level of care dependency and the need for assistance with personal care in non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Methods: Members of two Facebook groups for COVID-19 patients with persistent complaints in The Netherlands and Belgium, and from a panel of people who registered at a website of the Lung Foundation Netherlands, were assessed for demographics, pre-existing comorbidities, health status, and symptoms. In addition, patients were asked about their dependence on others for personal care before and after the infection. The level of care dependency was assessed with the Care Dependency Scale (CDS) in members of the Belgian Facebook group (n
= 210). Results: The data of 1837 non-hospitalized patients (86% women; median (IQR) age: 47 (38–54)) were analyzed. Only a small proportion of patients needed help with personal care before COVID-19, but the care need increased significantly after the infection (on average 79 ± 17 days after the onset of symptoms; 7.7% versus 52.4%, respectively; p
< 0.05). The patients had a median (IQR) CDS score of 72 (67–75) points, and 31% of the patients were considered as care-dependent (CDS score ≤ 68 points). Conclusions: COVID-19 has an important impact on care dependency in non-hospitalized patients. About three months after the onset of symptoms, a considerable proportion of non-hospitalized patients were to some degree dependent on others for personal care. This indicates that the impact of COVID-19 on patients’ daily lives is tremendous, and more attention is needed to identify optimal treatment strategies to restore patients’ independency.
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