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Long Covid more likely in patients from deprived areas

New research shows that patients from the most deprived areas working in healthcare and education are 46% more likely to have long Covid.

New research shows that patients from the most deprived areas and working in the healthcare and education sectors are 46% more likely to have long Covid, compared to those in the least deprived areas.

The study, published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, found that there was no significant association between the risk of long Covid and the most and least deprived areas for people working in the manufacturing and construction sectors.

This is the first study to quantify the association between long Covid and socioeconomic status across a range of occupation sectors.

Researchers from the universities of Southampton and Oxford analysed over 200,000 working-age adults from the Office for National Statistics Covid-19 Infection Survey. They also found that females had a higher risk of long Covid, with the risk of long Covid  in females in the least deprived areas comparable to that in males in the most deprived areas.

Long Covid and socioeconomic inequality

Lead researcher Dr Nazrul Islam of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Southampton and Nuffield Department of Population Health at the University of Oxford said: “Although certain occupational groups, especially frontline and essential workers, have been unequally affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, studies on long Covid and occupation are sparse.

“Our findings are consistent with pre-pandemic research on other health conditions, suggesting that workers with lower socioeconomic status have poorer health outcomes and higher premature mortality than those with higher socioeconomic position but a similar occupation. However, the socioeconomic inequality may vary considerably by occupation groups.”

According to the researchers, the study indicates the need for a diverse range of public health interventions after recovery from Covid-19 across multiple intersecting social dimensions. Future health policy recommendations, they say, should incorporate the multiple dimensions of inequality, such as sex, deprivation and occupation when considering the treatment and management of long Covid.

Dr Islam added: “The inequalities shown in this study show that such an approach can provide more precise identification of risks and be relevant to other diseases and beyond the pandemic.
These findings will help inform health policy in identifying the most vulnerable sub-groups of populations so that more focused efforts are given, and proportional allocation of resources are implemented, to facilitate the reduction of health inequalities.”

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