Better clinical outcomes in hospitalized COVID-19 minority patients with accompanying gastrointestinal symptoms

Nabil A. Fallouh, Katrina H. Naik, Chichi O. Udochi, Adam Z. Horowitz, Shant Ayanian, Kathryn M. Humes, Farida M. Izzi, Marie L. Borum, Juan A. Reyes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background and aims: The novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is highly contagious pathogen that primarily causes respiratory illnesses. Howerver, multiple gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms have been reported in Coronavirus Disease of 2019 (COVID-19). We conducted a retrospective cohort study of inpatients with COVID-19 at the George Washington University Hospital (GWUH) to assess the prevalence of GI symptoms and their association with clinical outcomes. Methods: We reviewed the charts of 401 adults admitted to GWUH with positive SARS-CoV-2 tests from February 24 to May 21, 2020, ultimately including 382 inpatients. Results: 87% of our cohort was African American or Latinx. 59% of patients reported at least one GI symptom, with diarrhea being the most common (29%). Patients with GI symptoms were slightly younger (58 +/- 15.8 vs. 65 +/- 16.9, p = 0.0005), have higher body mass index (31.5 +/- Standard Deviation of 8.7 vs. 28 +/- 8.2, p = 0.0001), and more likely to be Latinx (34 vs. 27, p = 0.01). Patients who presented with abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea had significantly lower rates of death during hospitalization compared to those who did not present those symptoms (Odds Ratio 0.48, 95% Confidence Interval 0.28–0.8, p = 0.004). Conclusions: Our study suggests that GI symptoms portend a less-severe clinical course of COVID-19 which may reflect a different disease phenotype and lower overall immune response. Additional research should focus on more robust symptom reporting and longer follow-up.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)626-635
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the National Medical Association
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Abdominal pain
  • COVID-19
  • Diarrhea
  • SARS-CoV-2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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