In order to measure the prevalence of post-COVID-19 cognitive impairment and its association with the severity of the disease, the team analyzed patient data from April 2020 through May 2021.
Next, the researchers calculated the frequency of impairment on each measure and they used logistic regression to assess the relationship between cognitive impairment and COVID-19 care site – adjusting for race and ethnicity, smoking, body mass index, comorbidities and depression.
In all, they found that the most prominent cognitive deficits were in both memory encoding and memory recall, which showed up in 24% and 23% of the participants, respectively
Additionally, hospitalized patients were more likely to have impairments in attention, executive functioning, category fluency, memory encoding and memory recall than those in the outpatient group
Those treated in the emergency department were also more likely to have impaired category fluency and memory encoding than those treated in the outpatient setting
"The relative sparing of memory recognition in the context of impaired encoding and recall suggests an executive pattern," the researchers wrote
The group also noted that while it is well-known that older adults and certain populations may be particularly susceptible to cognitive impairment after critical illness, a substantial proportion in the relatively young cohort in the study also exhibited cognitive dysfunction several months after recovering from COVID-19.