THE MAJORITY OF ONCOLOGY PATIENTS FEEL ABANDONED BY THE SYSTEM
In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, the Quebec Cancer Coalition (QCC) surveyed oncology patients to measure and understand the impact of the pandemic on their treatments. The decision to run this survey stemmed from a large number of communications from concerned patients, regarding the impact of the measures taken by the government to better manage the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under normal circumstances, changes in cancer care are already causing anxiety among patients and their loved ones. In the context of this exceptional situation, the QCC felt it was essential to identify the concrete impacts of COVID-19, to identify the realities experienced by cancer patients, and to propose recommendations to their government.
The survey was completed by patients in acute care or in follow-up (or by their loved ones, if they could not), from April 3 to April 11, 2020. 592 people with various types of cancer, and spread across almost all regions in the province, participated in the survey.
The main findings of the survey conducted by the QCC included:
- 60.8% of respondents felt that their care was affected by the effects of the health crisis due to COVID-19.
- 66.7%, or nearly two-thirds of respondents, are experiencing increased anxiety or worsening of existing psychological health problems as a result of the situation accompanying the pandemic. This includes difficulty in accessing treatment, risk of jeopardizing a vital prognosis, and fear of contracting COVID-19.
- 68.7% of respondents felt affected by the postponement or cancellation of an appointment. This includes; follow-ups (35.5%), imaging tests (14.7%), surgeries (8.3%), and other categories.
In light of the results of the consultations, the QCC has urged the Quebec government to take action to better support cancer patients in the context of the COVID-19 crisis. A series of recommendations have been drawn up to improve management and communication with patients. Among other things, the QCC recommends reorganizing certain services so that follow-ups can be maintained; planning a “post-COVID” recovery plan to monitor wait times for all procedures; improving communications between health professionals and their patients in order to reassure them, and setting up a special line for oncology patients.
** For more information for cancer patients during the COVID-19 pandemic: http://coalitioncancer.com/en/covid-19**
Full survey report (english): http://coalitioncancer.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Final_Report_Cancer_COVID19_ENG-1.pdf
Full survey report (french): http://coalitioncancer.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Rapport_FINAL_Impact_COVID_Cancer.pdf
Online resources for people affected by cancer during the pandemic.
French : http://coalitioncancer.com/covid-19/