Lost and changed meaning in life of people with Long Covid: a qualitative study

Marishelle Lieberwerth, Alistair R. Niemeijer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Long Covid (LC) has been called the greatest mass-disabling event in human history. For patients, LC not only has implications for quality of life but also for meaning in life: how one’s life and the world are understood and what is seen as valuable in one’s life. This qualitative empirical study used a Constructivist Grounded Theory approach to investigate the meaning in life of people struggling with LC through ten patient interviews. This study shows that patients lose their prior understanding of life and come to a changed meaning in life, in part due to the experienced (social) isolation and loss of (both physical and cognitive) abilities caused by LC. Moreover, patients struggled with acceptance, uncertainty, and the inherent incomprehensibility and uncontrollability that living with LC entails, though this simultaneously co-existed with hope, optimism and acceptance. Additionally, dimensions of meaning intersect; a patient having some understanding of their illness (dimension of meaning: comprehension) required an understanding Other (dimension of meaning: connection). Emerging from lockdown brought the challenge and isolation of adjusting to chronic illness in society as usual (albeit divided about COVID-19 measures). This study thus offers novel insights regarding changed, present, and sought meaning in life for LC patients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
JournalInternational Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being
Issue number1
Early online date6 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - 6 Dec 2023


  • Long Covid
  • Meaning in life
  • chronic illness
  • epistemic injustice
  • meaning-making

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