J Cancer Policy. 2022 Aug 22:100359. doi: 10.1016/j.jcpo.2022.100359. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Worldwide, COVID-19 greatly reduced healthcare accessibility and utilization by non-COVID patients including cancer. This study aimed to quantify and characterize cancer care adjustments experienced by cancer patients/survivors; and to explore their concerns, beliefs, and knowledge regarding COVID-19.
METHODS: A cross-sectional study was conducted using a questionnaire distributed through social media patients' groups (June-December 2020). Questionnaire included basic information, care adjustments (in "care provision" and in "treatment plan"), and patients' concerns, beliefs, and knowledge. Data description and analysis were done.
RESULTS: Out of 300 participants, there were 68.0% on-treatment and 32.0% in follow-up stage. Care adjustments were reported by 29.7%; mostly in care provision (27.3%) rather than treatment plan (4.9%). Adjustments were less likely to occur when healthcare facility was in governorate other than that of residence (OR:0.53, 95%CI:0.30-0.96, P=0.037) and more likely with long-standing diagnosis (≥12 months) compared with recent (<3 months) (adjusted-OR:4.13, 95%CI:1.19-14.34, P=0.026). Lower proportion of on-treatment patients used remote consultation than patients in follow-up [4.4% versus 17.7%, P<0.001]. Patients were concerned about fulfilling their care visits more than the probable COVID-19 infection (72.3%). It was uncommon to feel that the risk of COVID-19 infection is higher in care places than in the community (27.3%) or to feel safe with remote consultations (34.3%). However, patients increased their infection control practice (64.0%) and the majority were aware of their increased susceptibility to complications (86.0%). Somewhat, they were also concerned about the care quality (57.3%). Many had adequate access to COVID-19 information (69.0%) and their main sources were the Ministry of Health webpage and ordinary media (radio/TV).
CONCLUSION: Cancer patients were primarily concerned about fulfilling their planned care and COVID-19 infection was less appreciated.
POLICY SUMMARY: Launching of a policy for enhancement of telemedicine experience through more patients' engagement-as essential stakeholders-may be required. To heighten pandemic resilience for cancer care in Egypt, more investment in establishing specialized end-to-end cancer care facilities that ensure continuity of care may be justified.
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