The number of adults who visited their GP for memory and concentration problems was 15% higher in the fourth quarter of 2023 compared to before the pandemic (2019). In addition, over 3% of adults (26+) continue to have persistent symptoms after COVID-19. This is evidenced by the latest quarterly update from December 2023. The study is part of Health Research for COVID-19. In this study, the GOR Network researches the health effects of the COVID-19 crisis.

The Network for Health Research in Disasters (GOR Network) publishes a quarterly update on this page, summarising key results from survey research and data from primary care providers. The aim is to provide information to municipalities, provinces and the national government of the Netherlands to assist them in formulating policies. 

Summary of research round 10

The survey results from December 2023 show minor changes in the health of young people and adults. Key results from adult research are summarised below.

GP visits for memory and concentration problems remain high

The number of adults who visited their GP for memory and concentration problems is still significantly higher than before the pandemic (2019). GP visits for these symptoms visits were 18% higher in the third quarter and 15% higher in the fourth quarter. It is striking to note that this increase mainly occurred in the age group of 24–45 years (a 60% increase compared to 2019); no comparative increase was observed among older people. Adults were also more likely to visit their GP with heart palpitations and shortness of breath than in 2019. 

More than 3% of adults have persistent symptoms after COVID-19

Over 3% of adults (aged 26+) reported having persistent long-term symptoms after an infection with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. This is also known as post-COVID or Long COVID. Nearly one-quarter (almost 25%) of these adults felt very limited in their daily lives as a result. 39% of adults with persistent symptoms indicated that they had been experiencing these effects for 1 to 2 years, while 32% had persisted as long as 2 to 3 years. In June 2023, adults with post-COVID talked about how these symptoms are affecting their lives: Post-COVID Experiences (in Dutch)

Slight downward trend in mental health among adults

Among adults, there has been a minor increase in mental health problems and related needs for assistance, as well as loneliness and stress. In addition, confidence in the future decreased from 49% to 44%. Even so, most adults perceived their health as generally good (77%), slightly higher than in the previous research round in June 2023. 83% of adults feel happy most of the time.

Pandemic still affects workplace for care workers

11% of the survey participants work in healthcare. Although 31% of adults no longer see any consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in their work, 69% do. They indicate that there are still many patients who have COVID-19 or persistent post-COVID symptoms, and that care facilities sometimes face turmoil when SARS-CoV-2 infections occur. Contact with patients still involves more distance. People shake hands less often, and are more likely to work from home. Some care workers are still seeing consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in their workload and in catch-up care.