A recent survey of psycho-oncology professionals across the United Kingdom has highlighted the significant challenges and unexpected benefits experienced during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) global pandemic. The results from this cross-sectional qualitative survey were published in Psycho-Oncology.
Health professionals were surveyed via 9 free text questions about their experience and concerns. In total 47 clinicians, 33 academics, 10 third sector, and 4 other health professionals responded.
Clinicians were primarily concerned with therapy delivery, including delayed or altered treatment plans. In general, services have been severely reduced and shifted to remote contact. They reported that remote care was less effective and more challenging. This was especially concerning as patients with cancer who were positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, expressed increased psychological burden. Respondents reported a fear of explosive demand once normality returns.
Despite these concerns, patients who were unable to access face-to-face care have now been connected remotely, effectively increasing access. Some clinicians were satisfied with new opportunities for job flexibility and the ability to work from home.
Researchers were particularly concerned with disruptions to the collection of data and the reduction in financial support. Interrupted grant funding is likely to hinder the ability to restart or continue lines of research in the future. However, to counteract potential difficulties, some institutions have streamlined governance processes to speed current projects along, which respondents were satisfied with.
The global pandemic has caused clinicians and researchers to change many routine practices resulting in both challenges and benefits for psycho-oncology professionals, the respondents feared, however, that the full impact of COVID-19 has not yet come to fruition.
Archer S, Hoch P, Armes J, et al. “No turning back” Psycho-oncology in the time of COVID-19: insights from a survey of UK professionals. Psychooncology. Published online July 20, 2020. doi:10.1002/pon.5486