Undergoing active treatment for gynecologic cancer during COVID-19: A qualitative study of the impact on healthcare and social support
Moran, Hannah K.
Brooks, Joanna Veazey
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The COVID-19 pandemic poses unique challenges for oncology patients and clinicians. While guidelines for oncology care delivery during the pandemic have been established, there is a paucity of data examining patient experiences of cancer care during the COVID pandemic. This qualitative study captured the perspectives of women undergoing active treatment for gynecologic malignancy at an academic medical center. Hour-long semistructured interviews were conducted via video-conference and transcribed verbatim. Focused coding was conducted to identify all data related to COVID-19. These data were then categorized into themes that emerged inductively. Seven women (N = 7) were interviewed. Several themes arose under two main categories: 1) Impact of COVID-19 on cancer care delivery and interactions and 2) Intersection of cancer and COVID-19 outside of the healthcare setting. Under category 1, themes included: going to treatment alone; variable access to care and information. Under category 2, themes included: unavailability of cancer-specific social support; mask wearing; COVID-19 & life outlook; adapting coping strategies. Participants’ perceptions of having cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic varied and were not always negative. Healthcare systems can draw on our findings to inform interventions to ensure optimal patient care. Additionally, given our finding that noncompliance with mask wearing and physical distancing can be uniquely distressing to cancer patients, healthcare systems should prioritize clear messaging around COVID-19 precautions and ensure compliance of staff and patrons. Due to the rapidly changing nature of the pandemic, outcomes for these patients should be monitored and care guidelines should incorporate first-hand patient narratives.
Link to resourcehttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.gore.2020.100659
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