Objective: Cancer patients, carers and oncology health professionals have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in many ways, but their experiences and psychosocial responses to the pandemic are still being explored. This study aimed to document the experience of Australians living with cancer, family carers, and Oncology health professionals (HPs) when COVID-19 first emerged.

Methods: In this qualitative study, participants (cancer patients currently receiving treatment, family carers and HPs) completed a semi-structured interview exploring their experiences of COVID-19 and the impact it had on cancer care. Participants also completed the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (patients) and the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale (carers and HPs) to assess emotional morbidity. Thematic analysis was undertaken on qualitative data.

Results: 32 patients, 16 carers and 29 HPs participated. Qualitative analysis yielded three shared themes: fear and death anxiety, isolation, and uncertainty. For HPs, uncertainty incorporated the potential for moral distress and work-stress. Patients and carers scoring high on anxiety/depression measures were more likely to have advanced disease, expressed greater death anxiety, talked about taking more extreme precautionary measures, and felt more impacted by isolation.

Conclusion: Cancer and COVID-19 can have compounding psychological impacts on all those receiving or giving care.

Practice Implications: Screening for distress in patients, and burnout in HPs, is recommended. Increased compassionate access and provision of creative alternatives to face-to-face support are warrented.


cancer, oncology, psycho-oncology, cancer patients, family members of cancer patients, oncology health professionals

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