PURPOSEThe COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected cancer care delivery for patients, including cancellation or delays in surveillance imaging, clinic visits, and treatments. Yet, gaps remain in understanding the extent of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on patients with cancer and potential ways to overcome these impacts.METHODSWe conducted semistructured, in-depth, one-on-one qualitative interviews among adults with a past or current history of cancer in the United States. Participants from a parent quantitative survey were purposively sampled to participate in a qualitative interview. Interview questions addressed (1) experiences with cancer care delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic; (2) unmet concerns regarding care and other impacts; and (3) approaches to improve patient experiences. We conducted inductive thematic analysis.RESULTSFifty-seven interviews were conducted. Four themes emerged: (1) concern regarding the risk of COVID-19 infection among patients with cancer and their families; (2) disruptions in care increased patients' anxiety about poor cancer outcomes and death from cancer; (3) significant social and economic impacts; and (4) increased social isolation and anxiety about the future. Suggestions for current clinical practice include (1) clear communication on patients' health risks; (2) increased attention to mental health needs and access to mental health services; and (3) routine use of telemedicine as frequently as possible when clinically appropriate.CONCLUSIONThese rich findings reveal the significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on patients with cancer and potential approaches to mitigate the impact from the patient perspective. The findings not only inform current cancer care delivery but also health system responses to future public health or environmental crises that may pose a unique health risk for patients with cancer or disrupt their care.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Policy