A Cross-Sectional Study of the Health of Emerging Young Adults in England Following a COVID-19 Infection

Fiona Newlands*, Natalia K. Rojas, Manjula Nugawela, Snehal M. Pinto Pereira, Marta Buszewicz, Trudie Chalder, Emily Y. Cheung, Emma Dalrymple, Tamsin Ford, Isobel Heyman, Shamez N. Ladhani, Kelsey McOwat, Ruth Simmons, Terence Stephenson, Roz Shafran

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Purpose: This study describes long COVID symptomatology in a national sample of 18- to 20-year-olds with Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)-confirmed Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS‑CoV‑2) and matched test-negative controls in England. Symptoms in 18- to 20-year-olds were compared to symptoms in younger adolescents (aged 11–17 years) and all adults (18+). Methods: A national database was used to identify SARS-CoV-2 PCR-positive 18- to 20-year-olds and test-negative controls matched by time of test, age, gender, and geographical region. Participants were invited to complete a questionnaire about their health retrospectively at time of test and also when completing the questionnaire. Comparison cohorts included children and young people with long COVID and REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission studies. Results: Of 14,986 people invited, 1,001 were included in the analysis (562 test-positive; 440 test-negative). At testing, 46.5% of test-positives and 16.4% of test-negatives reported at least one symptom. At the time of questionnaire completion (median 7 months post-testing), 61.5% of test-positives and 47.5% of test-negatives reported one or more symptoms. The most common symptoms were similar amongst test-positives and test-negatives and included tiredness (44.0%; 35.7%), shortness of breath (28.8%; 16.3%), and headaches (13.7%; 12.0%). Prevalence rates were similar to those reported by 11–17-year-olds (66.5%) and higher than those reported in all adults (37.7%). For 18- to 20-year-olds, there was no significant difference in health-related quality of life and well-being (p > .05). However, test-positives reported being significantly more tired than test-negatives (p = .04). Discussion: Seven months after PCR test, a high proportion of test-positive and test-negative 18- to 20-year-olds reported similar symptoms to each other and to those experienced by younger and older counterparts.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)20-28
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023

    Bibliographical note

    Publisher Copyright:
    © 2023 Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine


    • Emerging adults
    • Long COVID
    • Symptoms


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