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Queen Mary researcher receives funding to investigate the impact of long COVID within ethnic minority groups

Dr Dipesh Gopal from Queen Mary University of London’s Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry will be involved in a £119,634 project that will reveal the lived experiences of people with long COVID specifically in ethnic minority groups.

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Dr Gopal will support the University of Westminster, who will be leading the research, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). The team, which also includes Keele University and the University of Southampton, will examine people’s symptoms, healthcare, wider support and treatment needs, the impact of long COVID on their daily lives and challenges to accessing support.

The research will be of vital importance given that ethnic minority communities, such as those of Arab, Black and South Asian backgrounds, have been disproportionately affected by acute infections with COVID-19.

There also may be poorer access for people from these minority groups in healthcare settings for the management of long COVID. It is known that lack of trust in healthcare, racism, stigma, discrimination, and language barriers can be experienced by minority groups, and these may hinder the reporting of long COVID symptoms and access to good care.

The team will conduct one-to-one interviews with people living with long COVID, including those who have not accessed long COVID services, to better understand how they navigate care and support. The team will also explore ways to facilitate user engagement with long COVID healthcare approaches that meet the needs of diverse groups such as by better involving family. The study will seek to understand what broader systems of support, such as religion and traditional healing, are utilised by minority groups for long COVID to inform better management of the condition. 

Dr Dipesh Gopal, NIHR In-Practice Fellow at Queen Mary said: “Long COVID care does not adequately consider the experiences of people from ethnic minority backgrounds. We want to  ensure those from ethnic minority backgrounds have a voice in how to best treat the long-term consequences of COVID-19 infections as well as improving the access to, and the quality of healthcare for all racially minoritised people.

“I am looking forward to working closely with all colleagues involved and pooling our expertise to help address an important and under-investigated issue.”

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