The Effects of Messaging on Long COVID Expectations: An Online Experiment

Freya Mills, Jaskiran Kaur Bhogal, Amelia Dennis, Cristina Spoiala, Joanna Milward, Sidra Saeed, Leah Ffion Jones, Dale Weston, Holly Carter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (SciVal)


Objective: We examined whether varying information about long COVID would affect expectations about the illness. Method: In October 2021, we conducted a 2 (Illness Description: long COVID vs. ongoing COVID-19 recovery) × 2 (Symptom Uncertainty: uncertainty emphasized vs. not emphasized) × 2 (Efficacy of Support: enhanced vs. basic support) between-subjects randomized online experimental study. Participants (N = 1,110) were presented with a scenario describing a positive COVID-19 test result, followed by one of eight scenarios describing a long COVID diagnosis and then completed outcome measures of illness expectations including: symptom severity, symptom duration, quality of life, personal control, treatment control, and illness coherence. Results: We ran a series of 2 × 2 × 2 ANOVAs on the outcome variables. We found a main effect of illness description: individuals reported longer symptom duration and less illness coherence when the illness was described as long COVID (compared to ongoing COVID-19 recovery). There was a main effect of symptom uncertainty: when uncertainty was emphasized, participants reported longer expected symptom duration (p <.001), less treatment control (p =.031), and less illness coherence (p<.001) than when uncertainty was not emphasized. There was a main effect of efficacy of support: participants reported higher personal control (p =.004) and higher treatment control (p =.037) when support was enhanced (compared to basic support).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)853-863
Number of pages11
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Holly Carter and Dale Weston are supported by the National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Units (NIHR HPRU) in Emergency Preparedness and Response (Grant 200890); a partnership between UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), King’s College London, and the University of East Anglia, and the NIHR HPRU in Behavioural Science and Evaluation (Grant 200877), a partnership between UK Health Security Agency and the University of Bristol. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NIHR, UKHSA, or the Department of Health and Social Care. All authors had full access to the data and can take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis. No external funding organization had a role in the design of the study; in the collection, analyses, or interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript, or in the decision to publish the results

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s)


  • Communication
  • Covid-19
  • Expectations
  • Long covid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'The Effects of Messaging on Long COVID Expectations: An Online Experiment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this