A focus group of supportive care health professionals and consumers discussed concerns about how the pandemic has changed care of patients with genitourinary (GU) cancers. Themes from the discussion were published in the Asia-Pacific Journal of Clinical Oncology.
The goal of the focus group was to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected healthcare delivery and clinical trials in the setting of GU cancers. Seventy-two participants were recruited prior to a conference workshop hosted by the Australian New Zealand Urogenital and Prostate Cancer Trials Group for supportive care health professionals in November 2020.
The focus group comprised consumers, nurses, and clinical psychologists.
The consumers stated that the COVID-19 pandemic affected their ability to travel to GU cancer care appointments due to fears of using public transportation and changing their mode of transport affected their out-of-pocket expenses. In general, the patients transitioned to telehealth appointments where possible and opted to have medications delivered directly to their home.
Nurses described their experience using telephone or video consultations to address patient needs. They stated that delays in appointments tended to occur more when COVID-19 cases were higher, and the nurses were concerned that ongoing delays could have long-term effects on treatment and outcomes.
In addition, nurses stated that rapid policy changes, such as a shift to outpatient testing and assessment, and limited collaboration with clinical teams may have affected the quality of care for some patients.
Nurses also expressed concerns with patient support, in which family members may have been barred from attending in-person appointments or from visiting a patient during their end-of-life care.
“Embedding innovations such as telehealth and teletrials into standard care and streamlining clinical trial processes will require changes in policy, practice, education, and research,” the study authors concluded. “While change continues, there is a great deal of work required to ensure changes are evaluated and implemented in an evidence-based way.”
Roberts NA, Dhillon HM, Paterson C, Schubach K, McJannett M; Australian and New Zealand Urogenital and Prostate Cancer Trials Group. The impact of coronavirus disease 2019 on genitourinary and prostate cancer care and clinical trials: A qualitative exploration of the Australian and New Zealand experience. Asia Pac J Clin Oncol. Published online October 25, 2022. doi:10.1111/ajco.13847