Neuropsychological, Medical, and Psychiatric Findings After Recovery From Acute COVID-19: A Cross-sectional Study

Stephen J. Ferrando, Rhea Dornbush, Sean Lynch, Sivan Shahar, Lidia Klepacz, Carol L. Karmen, Donald Chen, Stephen A. Lobo, Dania Lerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Background: Persistent cognitive, medical and psychiatric complaints have been extensively described after recovery from acute SARS-CoV-2 infection. Objective: To describe neuropsychological, medical, psychiatric, and functional correlates of cognitive complaints experienced after recovery from acute COVID-19 infection. Methods: Sixty participants underwent neuropsychological, psychiatric, medical, functional, and quality-of-life assessments 6–8 months after acute COVID-19. Those seeking care for cognitive complaints in a post-COVID-19 clinical program for post-acute symptoms of COVID-19 (clinical group, N = 32) were compared with those recruited from the community who were not seeking care (nonclinical, N = 28). A subset of participants underwent serological testing for proinflammatory cytokines C-reactive protein, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor-α to explore correlations with neuropsychological, psychiatric, and medical variables. Results: For the entire sample, 16 (27%) had extremely low test scores (less than second percentile on at least 1 neuropsychological test). The clinical group with cognitive complaints scored lower than age-adjusted population norms in tests of attention, processing speed, memory, and executive function and scored significantly more in the extremely low range than the nonclinical group (38% vs. 14%, P < 0.04). The clinical group also reported higher levels of depression, anxiety, fatigue, posttraumatic stress disorder, and functional difficulties and lower quality of life. In logistic regression analysis, scoring in the extremely low range was predicted by acute COVID-19 symptoms, current depression score, number of medical comorbidities, and subjective cognitive complaints in the areas of memory, language, and executive functions. Interleukin-6 correlated with acute COVID symptoms, number of medical comorbidities, fatigue, and inversely with measures of executive function. C-reactive protein correlated with current COVID symptoms and depression score but inversely with quality of life. Conclusion: Results suggest the existence of extremely low neuropsychological test performance experienced by some individuals months after acute COVID-19 infection, affecting multiple neurocognitive domains. This extremely low neuropsychological test performance is associated with worse acute COVID-19 symptoms, depression, medical comorbidities, functional complaints, and subjective cognitive complaints. Exploratory correlations with proinflammatory cytokines support further research into inflammatory mechanisms and viable treatments.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the Academy of Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • cognitive complaints
  • neuropsychiatry
  • neuropsychological testing
  • post-acute symptoms of COVID-19 (PASC)


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