A survey found that patients undergoing hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) during the COVID-19 pandemic experienced high levels of psychological distress. These findings were published in Seminars in Oncology Nursing.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, certain populations, such as the elderly or those who are immunocompromised, were at increased risk for infection and mortality. After undergoing HCT, patients can be immunocompromised for extended periods, and to date, whether the precarious situation associated with COVID-19 has had an impact on mental health for these patients remains unclear.
To gain understanding, 54 patients who underwent or were scheduled for HCT were invited to complete an online survey about the psychological distress they were experiencing.
Most patients had lymphoid neoplasia (53%) or multiple neoplasia (39%), 46% were aged 61 to 70 years, 52% were women, and 94% were White.
The pandemic caused patients to receive less medical care than usual (28%) or to hesitate to go to the doctor (35%).
The average Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) anxiety score was 13.67 and 45% said the pandemic was contributing to their anxiety. Participants indicated the pandemic contributed a lot to stress related to health risk (39%), future plans (39%), disruption of daily routines (35%), and risk for people they care about (26%). Few participants (≤19%) indicated they had no COVID-19-associated stress relating to these themes.
Patients endorsed using positive coping skills more than avoidant skills to deal with pandemic-related stressors.
This study may have been limited by recruiting patients in differing phases of the HCT process.
Patients undergoing HCT during the pandemic likely had high levels of distress, but they also were likely to report using healthy coping strategies. Nurses are well poised to provide necessary support or recommend appropriate interventions for patients experiencing COVID-19-related stress while undergoing HCT.
Mohanraj L, Elswick Jr RK, Buch M, Knight JM, Guidry J. Perceptions and experiences of hematopoietic cell transplantation patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Semin Oncol Nurs. Published online March 20, 2022. doi:10.1016/j.soncn.2022.151257