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COVID-19, health services accessibility, interviews, qualitative research



  1. Prokop, Jackie
  2. Reid, Catherine
  3. Palmateer, Brandon


Background: Millions of Americans have tested positive for COVID-19. The illness has a range of clinical symptoms with varying degrees of symptom severity; there is limited research about the lived experience of having COVID-19.


Objective: The study aim was to understand the lived experience of having COVID-19, provide detail on the length and severity of symptoms as well as coping mechanisms of those with the illness, and identify issues individuals face when accessing healthcare.


Methods: This phenomenological qualitative study included semistructured interviews of 45 people ages 18 years and older living in the United States who tested positive for COVID-19. Inductive content analysis was employed for subjective interpretation of the text through a systematic coding classification to identify themes for analysis and conclusions.


Results: This study details a variety of symptom presentations of individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 as well as mental health concerns related to fear and living with COVID-19.


Discussion: Individuals expressed varying emotions when finding they tested positive for COVID-19. Many conveyed fear of having COVID-19 and indicated it was a traumatic experience. This fear is an important clinical finding that policymakers and providers should consider when treating acute and chronic COVID-19 patients. Finally, many participants, commonly referred to as "long haulers," experienced ongoing and lingering symptoms highlighting an area in need of further research.