Issues patients with mild COVID-19 faced during home isolation: a qualitative research in Greece

Despoina Symintiridou, Ilias Pagkozidis, Stavroula Mystakidou, Charis Birtsou, Stella Ploukou, Stavroula Begou, Martha Andreou, Michael Dandoulakis, Elias Theodoropoulos, Chrysanthi Manolaki, Ioanna Avakian, Efthymia Makridou, Christina Avgerinou, Emmanouil Smyrnakis, On Behalf Of The Aristotle University Primary Health Care Research Network (Auth.phc.rn.)

Keywords: primary care, mental health, social impact, COVID-19, Greece

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) burdened health systems worldwide, whilst the adopted regulations, such as physical distancing, use of masks, lockdown laws or quarantine affected society's structure and cohesion.

Research questions:
Experience and issues faced by Greek patients with mild Covid-19, in no need of hospitalisation, during home isolation in the third pandemic wave. Patients' expectations towards pandemic management strategies.

Thirty-seven patients participated in this qualitative study. Selection criteria were: adulthood; sex; recently positive tested; mild COVID-19. Telephone semi-structured interviews were carried out in spring 2021, concluded when data saturation was reached, were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Thematic analysis was used to identify key emergent themes. A preliminary thematic framework was developed, applied to all transcripts and refined iteratively. Four main issues were identified: everyday needs; psychological issues; social issues; information and guidance.

All participants were provided with necessary food and medication. Isolation from the rest of the family was not always possible, mainly due to absence of space. Of particular concern was securing supplies for those living alone and isolating from younger family members.
Fear of transmission to vulnerable groups, hospitalization, no recovery and irreversible side effects was predominantly articulated. Anxiety, insecurity, guilt and alienation, whereas joy and relief prevailed during confinement and rehabilitation respectively.
COVID-19 disrupted the normal functioning of families and led to revision of interpersonal relationships. Patients avoided re-integration in society, due to transmitter's stigma. Solidarity is highlighted.
Media over-information promotes fear. Mild illness raises doubts about the validity of such information. Primary Health Care (PHC) physicians provide guidance, monitoring and psychological support. The need for ongoing, lifelong medical support and assistance services is strongly expressed.

Isolation, unofficial information overload and monitoring issues were predominantly affecting Greek patients. Highlighted topics demonstrate the need for PHC reorganization in order to deal more effectively with future pandemics.

Points for discussion:
Are issues faced by Greek patients relevant/comparable to that of other countries?

Best practices regarding confinement management by overseas primary healthcare professionals

Focus areas for strengthening primary health care