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Introduction: Olfactory dysfunction is a common symptom of COVID-19. However, subjective perception of olfactory function does not always correlate well with more objective measures. This study seeks to clarify associations between subjective and psychophysical measures of olfaction and gustation in patients with subjective chemosensory dysfunction following COVID-19. Methods: Adults with persistent COVID-19-associated chemosensory disturbance were recruited for a prospective, longitudinal cohort study at a tertiary care institution. Participants provided subjective measures of olfactory and gustatory function and underwent psychophysical assessment using Sniffin’ Sticks olfactory and Monell gustatory tests. Results: Data analysis (n=65) showed a statistically significant association between subjective and psychophysical measures of olfaction (p<0.001). For each one-point increase in subjectively-reported olfactory ability, there is, on average, a 0.11 (95% CI: 0.06, 0.16; p<0.001) point increase in TDI score while adjusting for age at baseline assessment, sex, and follow-up time. For each one-point increase in subjectively-reported olfactory ability, there is, on average, a 0.04 (95% CI: 0.02, 0.06; p<0.001) point and 0.05 (95% CI: 0.03, 0.07; p<0.001) point increase in discrimination and identification scores, respectively, when adjusting for age at baseline assessment, sex, and follow-up time. Conclusion: Subjective olfaction shows a mild to moderate association with psychophysical measures, but it fails to comprehensively assess persistent COVID-19-associated chemosensory deficits. The lack of significant association between subjective olfaction and threshold limits the utility of subjective olfaction in tracking recovery. These findings support the push for more widespread psychophysical chemosensory testing.

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