Personalised rehabilitation programmes for patients with long Covid are to be developed as part of a new research project involving Swansea University health economists, which has just been awarded £1.1 million of UK government funding.

The project, known as LISTEN, will involve designing and evaluating a self-management intervention for people suffering with long Covid. This is likely to include a book, digital resources and a new training package for health professionals.

Project researchers will be analysing how clinically effective the intervention is, and how much it helps people cope and recover from long Covid. 

The role of the team from the Swansea Centre for Health Economics at the College of Human and Health Sciences, is to analyse its cost-effectiveness, to assess whether it provides good value for public money. 

Long Covid has been estimated to affect at least 10% of people who test positive for Covid-19. The latest estimates suggest nearly a million people are living with the condition in the UK.

People with long Covid experience a wide variety of ongoing problems such as tiredness and difficulty with everyday tasks, meaning they can struggle to return to their former lives. This can then be made worse by uncertainty and a lack of understanding around the diagnosis.

There are currently no real treatment options, so developing effective interventions to help people cope and overcome their condition is crucial for this growing, yet under-served, patient group.

The LISTEN project is led by a team from St George’s, University of London and Kingston University and also involves Cardiff University. The UK government funding was provided through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

Dr Berni Sewell, Senior Lecturer at the Swansea Centre for Health Economics, said:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has put into sharp focus how limited our health and care resources are. It is our responsibility to ensure every new intervention is not only effective but also cost-effective.

Being involved as health economists in the LISTEN study is an amazing opportunity to support the development of an intervention that improves outcomes and experiences for this fast-growing patient group, whilst also ensuring we sustain our health service and quality of care for the future.”

Professor Fiona Jones from St George’s, University of London and Kingston University, said:

“Thousands of people in this country are currently suffering from the effects of long Covid, with many people infected in the first wave still experiencing a significant impact on their daily lives. We need people to have access to skilled practitioners that are local to them – which our project intends to deliver.

Our hope is that wherever you live, if you experience long Covid, you can get access to personalised self-management support, connecting you with a rehabilitation practitioner with deep understanding of the condition.”