Törnbom K, Larsson A, Sunnerhagen KS, Palstam A, Persson HC
PLoS One 18 (7) e0287981 [2023-07-19; online 2023-07-19]
Many people are struggling to get back to their lives after severe COVID-19. To facilitate their reintegration into everyday life, we need to understand how the process is experienced. We aimed to gain deeper knowledge about this process by interviewing persons one year after hospitalisation due to COVID-19. The study is based on a qualitative design, with eleven in-depth interviews conducted one year after discharge for COVID-19. Participants were recruited to form a heterogeneous sample with respect to age, gender and socioeconomic background. All interviews were analysed utilising inductive thematic analysis. From the participants' narratives four themes were identified: 'Concerns and worries in everyday life', 'Supportive and concerned relatives', 'A new way of life-sorrows and advantages' and 'Seize the day-a greater awareness of one´s mortality'. Participants described how they tried to create a functioning everyday life. They were generally afraid of getting COVID-19 again and concerned about future life, where their lack of energy played a major role. Narratives were diverse regarding to what extent the struggle to cope was experienced as emotionally challenging or not. Participants described an unpredictable recovery after COVID-19, characterised by ups and downs, which created worries concerning their future. In some cases, the worry of getting COVID-19 again was strong enough to keep participants in their homes, as a self-imposed lockdown guarded by anxiety. However, the narratives also revealed gratitude towards being alive and having coped so well. This led to a more positive outlook on life with a greater focus on intrinsic values, close social relations and the deeper meaning of life.