In an analysis from the COVID-19 Impact Survey reported in JCO Oncology Practice, Islam et al found that U.S. adult cancer survivors were more likely to report mental health–related symptoms vs adults without cancer during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Data for the analysis were obtained from the publicly available COVID-19 Household Impact Survey conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago for the Data Foundation. The COVID-19 Impact Survey provides national and regional data on physical health, mental health, economic security, and social dynamics.
“Cancer survivors are reporting mental health symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly young adults, adults without a high school degree, women, and survivors with limited social support.”— Islam et al
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The current analysis used merged nationally representative survey data from 10,760 U.S. adults for the weeks of April 20 to 26, May 4 to 10, and May 30 to June 8, 2020. The analysis assessed frequency and determinants of reporting at least one mental health symptom (nervous or anxious, depressed, lonely, hopeless, or experiencing physical reaction when thinking about experiences during COVID-19) three to seven times in the 7 days before survey administration.
Multivariate analysis included age, sex, marital status, race/ethnicity, education level, employment status, household income, population density, census, insurance, comorbid conditions, physical symptoms reported in the last 7 days, and current limited social interaction. Cancer survivors with limited social interaction were those who responded once a month or not at all to either of the following questions:
Among the 10,760 respondents, 854 (7.6%) had a self-reported cancer diagnosis.
Cancer survivors vs adults without cancer were more likely to report feeling: nervous, anxious, or on edge (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 1.42, 95% confidence interval [CI] =1.07–1.90); depressed (aOR = 1.57, 95% CI = 1.18–2.09); lonely (aOR = 1.42, 95% CI = 1.05–1.91); and hopeless (aOR = 1.51, 95% CI = 1.11–2.06) 3 to 7 days per week in the last 7 days.
Among cancer survivors, likelihood of reporting one or more mental health–related symptom on 3 to 7 days within the last 7 days was significantly increased for those aged 30 to 44 years (adjusted prevalence ratio [aPR] = 1.87, 95% CI = 1.18–2.95) and those aged 45 to 59 years (aPR = 1.48, 95% CI = 1.02–2.16) vs those aged ≥ 60 years (reference category), females vs males (aPR = 1.55, 95% CI = 1.12–2.13), adults without a high school degree vs a college baccalaureate degree or above (aPR = 1.79, 95% CI = 1.05–3.04), and adults with limited social interaction (aPR = 1.40, 95% CI = 1.01–1.95).
The investigators concluded, “Cancer survivors are reporting mental health symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly young adults, adults without a high school degree, women, and survivors with limited social support.”
Jessica Yasmine Islam, PhD, MPH, of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, School of Medicine, UNC, Chapel Hill, is the corresponding author for the JCO Oncology Practice article.
Disclosure: The study was supported in part by the Translational Program of Health Disparities Research Training, National Institutes of Health. For full disclosures of the study authors, visit ascopubs.org.The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.