The results of a survey of 1,038 doctors, nurses, pharmacists, administrators, and allied health professionals (such dietitians and physiotherapists) working in oncology in the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) during the spring wave of COVID-19 were presented by Susana N. Banerjee, MBBS, PhD, at the NCRI [National Cancer Research Institute] Virtual Showcase.
The results of the COVID-NOW study showed that 69% of oncology staff believe patients’ access to standard-of-care treatment has been compromised as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic; 94% of staff felt that patient management (meaning treatments such as surgery and chemotherapy) had been altered.
The study also found that while 66% felt able to do their job without compromising their personal safety, 42% of staff felt they were likely to be at risk of poor well-being, and 34% indicated signs of burnout. However, the majority said that they felt able to work well during this time, and an average score of around 7 out of 10 was reported (where 10 indicates being able to do their best work).
"Increasing our understanding of oncology professionals' experiences since COVID-19 is essential to making evidence-driven decisions on how best to help the oncology workforce."— Susana N. Banerjee, MBBS, PhD
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The survey also uncovered the coping strategies staff use, with doctors tending to use planning and humor as strategies, whereas allied health professionals sought out emotional support and information from others. Staff were also asked how valued they felt by their organization and by the public. Overall, 68% said they felt valued by the public and 66% said they felt valued in the workplace. On average, doctors felt the most valued by the public (79%) and their workplace (73%). Support services staff (such as research administration staff, health-care assistants, and phlebotomists) felt the least valued (47% felt valued by the public and 60% in the workplace).
Presenting author Dr. Banerjee, a consultant medical oncologist at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and Reader in Women's Cancers at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said, “As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the entire oncology community has been facing rapid changes to help ensure the safety of our patients while maintaining their cancer care. Increasing our understanding of oncology professionals' experiences since COVID-19 is essential to making evidence-driven decisions on how best to help the oncology workforce...the global oncology community must work collaboratively to ensure that limited resources are used in the best way possible to support oncology staff and their patients.”
The COVID-NOW study continues with further surveys planned as well as in-depth interviews to learn more about the impact of COVID-19 and how best to support oncology staff.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®.