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18-03-2021 | COVID-19 | News

Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on oncologists highlighted

Shreeya Nanda

medwireNews: The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major effect on the professional and personal lives of oncologists, suggests a survey-based study.

“Interventions should be implemented to mitigate the negative impact and prepare oncologists to manage future crises with more efficiency and resilience,” say Abdul Rahman Jazieh (King Abdulaziz Medical City, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia) and colleagues.

The questionnaire, comprising 42 items, was completed by 1010 physicians from the Middle East, North Africa, Brazil, and the Philippines during a 3-week period (April 24–May 15) in 2020. Just over half (54.75%) of the respondents were men and a quarter (23.96%) had been involved in COVID-19 efforts at their institution. The most common specialty was medical oncology, at 51.39%, followed by clinical, radiation, and surgical oncology, practiced by 13.56%, 12.08%, and 10.99%, respectively.

As reported in JCO Global Oncology, most of the participants were concerned about contracting COVID-19, with 30.30% very worried and 61.58% mildly worried, and the majority (84.85%) were also anxious about transmitting the virus to their family members.

Around half (48.71%) of the respondents felt their job put them at increased risk, but they would continue with it nonetheless, while a comparable proportion (48.61%) did not feel differently about their job since the pandemic; just 2.67% said that they were likely to change jobs within the next 2 years.

Over three-quarters (76.93%) said they would have an approved COVID-19 vaccine when offered, while 8.51% said they would not and the remaining 14.55% did not know. Logistic regression analysis showed that practicing in Brazil was the strongest predictor for vaccine acceptance, at a significant odds ratio (OR) of 11.80, followed by regular receipt of the flu vaccine (OR=8.78).

Nearly half (48.51%) reported a negative impact of the pandemic on their mental and emotional well-being, while a respective 27.84% and 15.84% reported a negative effect on relationships with family and co-workers. The pandemic also negatively affected financial income for 52.28% of participants and research productivity for 34.26%.

The researchers highlight, however, that “many have also reported a positive impact on these domains.” For instance, 30.00% said the pandemic had positively affected their family relationships and 26.04% reported improved relations with co-workers.

“Our study’s limitation is related to the cross-sectional design that captures information at a specific point of time, which may be subject to change with time, especially in the pandemic era that was rapidly evolving and introducing new knowledge and facts that may affect behaviors and feelings of physicians,” note Jazieh and team.

And they conclude: “Healthcare leaders should ensure the availability of employee support programs for their well-being and mental health. Oncologists should acquire the knowledge of self-care and self-preservation and enhance their coping skills for such a major crisis.”

medwireNews is an independent medical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Ltd. © 2021 Springer Healthcare Ltd, part of the Springer Nature Group

18 March 2021: The coronavirus pandemic is affecting all healthcare professionals across the globe. Medicine Matters’ focus, in this difficult time, is the dissemination of the latest data to support you in your research and clinical practice, based on the scientific literature. We will update the information we provide on the site, as the data are published. However, please refer to your own professional and governmental guidelines for the latest guidance in your own country.

JCO Global Oncol 2021; 7: 242–252