Adverse COVID-19 experiences and health-related quality of life in cancer survivors: indirect effects of COVID-19-related depression and financial burden



Abstract Background Cancer survivors are at greater risk for poor health outcomes due to COVID-19. However, the pandemic's impact on patients’ health-related quality of life (HRQoL) is not well known. This study hypothesized that cancer survivors' adverse COVID-19 experiences would be associated with worse HRQoL. Further, this association would be moderated by psychosocial resiliency factors (perceived social support, benefits, and ability to manage stress) and mediated by psychosocial risk factors (anxiety, depression; health, financial and social concerns). Methods 1,043 cancer survivors receiving care at Northwestern Medicine completed a cross-sectional survey on COVID-19 practical and psychosocial concerns from 6/2021 to 3/2022. Participants reported on 21 adverse COVID-19 experiences (e.g., COVID-19 hospitalization, death of family/friends, loss of income, medical delays). The survey assessed 9 psychosocial factors related to COVID-19: anxiety, depression; health care, financial, and social disruptions; health care satisfaction; social support, perceived benefits, and stress management skills. The FACT-G7 assessed HRQoL. Hypotheses were tested in a structural equation model. The number of reported adverse COVID-19 experiences was the primary (observed) independent variable. The dependent variable of HRQoL, and the proposed mediating and moderating factors, were entered as latent variables indicated by their respective survey items. Latent interaction terms between the independent variable and each resiliency factor tested moderation effects. Analyses were adjusted for demographic and COVID-specific variables. Results Participants were, on average, aged 58 years and diagnosed with cancer 4.9 years prior. They were majority female (73.3%), White (89.6%), non-Hispanic/Latino (94.5%), college-educated (81.7%), and vaccinated for COVID-19 (95.5%). An average of 3.8 adverse COVID-19 experiences were reported. Results of structural equation modeling demonstrated that the association between adverse COVID-19 experiences and HRQoL was explained by indirect effects through COVID-19-related depression (β = − 0.10, percentile bootstrap 95% CI − 0.15 to − 0.07) and financial concerns (β = − 0.04, percentile bootstrap 95% CI − 0.07 to − 0.01). Hypotheses testing moderation by resiliency factors were not significant. Conclusions Adverse COVID-19 experiences were associated with higher depression symptoms and financial concerns about COVID-19, and in turn, worse HRQoL. Oncology clinics should be cognizant of the experience of adverse COVID-19 events when allocating depression and financial support resources.
Date made available2023

Cite this