Document Type


Publication Date



American Psychological Association

Source Publication

Families, Systems, & Health

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

DOI: 10.1037/fsh0000792


Introduction: The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases has surpassed 579 million globally. Symptoms during and after COVID-19 infection vary from mild cold symptoms to severe multisystem illness. Given the wide range of symptom presentations and complications post COVID-19, the purpose of this study was to describe the lived experience of American adults surviving COVID-19.

Method: This study employed an exploratory qualitative description design. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a sample of 35 individuals, [white (94%), female (71%), mean age = 43.7 years], with proximity to a university in an urban Midwest American city. Interviews occurred between May and August 2021, three or more months after participants tested positive for COVID-19.

Results: Forty percent of the 35 participants experienced prolonged COVID-19 symptoms impacting their lifestyle. Four themes characterized the impacts of the post COVID-19 condition on the lives of the participants within the context of a global pandemic: (a) disruptions in health & well-being, (b) persistent uncertainty, (c) disruptions in interpersonal relationships, (d) beneficent outcomes and adaptation.

Discussion: This study of COVID-19 has identified important implications for physical activity and interpersonal stress. Prolonged COVID-19 symptoms led to disruptions in the health, well-being, and interpersonal relationships of participants. Healthcare professionals need to attend to symptoms post COVID-19, assess interpersonal functioning, and provide guidance on physical activity. Future studies are recommended to track consequences of COVID-19’s impact on long-term health and well-being.


Accepted version. Families, Systems, & Health, Vol. 41, No. 3 (2023): 308-319. DOI. © 2023 American Psychological Association. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the final, authoritative version of the article. Please do not copy or cite without authors' permission. Used with permission.

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