The benefits and consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic for patients diagnosed with cancer and their family caregivers

Jennifer L. Steel, Aarshati Amin, Tristen Peyser, Donna Olejniczak, Michael Antoni, Maureen Carney, Emily Tillman, Carol Lynn Hecht, Niva Pandya, Jessica Miceli, Vincent Reyes, Marci Nilsen, Jonas Johnson, Gauri Kiefer, Bhanu Pappu, Dan P. Zandberg, David A. Geller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: The objectives of this study were to examine benefits and consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic for patients diagnosed with cancer and their family caregivers. Methods: A 23-item questionnaire assessing COVID-19-related issues, the Patient Health Questionnaire-2, Generalized Anxiety Disorder-2, Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, and the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS)-4 were administered to patients diagnosed with cancer and their family caregivers. Results: Of the 161 patients and 78 caregivers who participated, 38.1% and 32.8 were male, 95% and 84.6% Caucasian, and the mean age was 66 and 64.6 years, respectively. A total of 16.5% and 15.2% reported depressive symptoms, 18.4% and 19% reported anxiety; 35.5% and 26.6% reported poor sleep quality, and 66% and 63.3% scored one standard deviation above the norms for the PSS, respectively. Predictors of poorer patient- and caregiver-reported outcomes included greater loneliness, worry about self or family being infected by the COVID-19, and worsening relationships with family. The fear of COVID-19 led to 20.8% of patients and 24.4% of family caregivers cancelling medical appointments, procedures, and treatments. A total of 52.5% of patients and 53.2% caregivers reported that the pandemic led to benefit finding but these changes were not associated with any of the measured patient- or caregiver-related outcomes. Conclusions: Psychological functioning for patients and caregivers was similar to that of pre-pandemic levels, however the decrease in health care utilization secondary to fear of COVID-19 was notable. While there were many negative effects of the pandemic, the majority of patients and caregivers reported some benefit to the pandemic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPsycho-Oncology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Oncology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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