Supporting someone with cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic: A mixed methods analysis of cancer carer's health, Quality of Life and need for support

Health Soc Care Community. 2022 Mar 4;10.1111/hsc.13768. doi: 10.1111/hsc.13768. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected the delivery of cancer care. Due to social restrictions and reductions in health service contact, it is expected that the burdens experienced by informal carers have risen. This study provides an analysis of cancer carer's experiences and needs as a consequence of the pandemic. An online mixed method design was used. The survey included open-ended responses to explore carer's experiences and measures of health status (EQ-5D-5L), Quality of Life (WHOQoL-BREF) and impact of COVID-19. Open-ended responses were analysed thematically according to Miles and Huberman techniques and quantitative data were analysed descriptively. One hundred and ninety-six cancer carers participated in the online survey. Mixed method analysis demonstrated that carers were experiencing major difficulties. Of these n = 142/72.4% experienced challenges related to anxiety and depression; 35.2% rated these problems as slight with 25% rating these as moderate and 11.2% as severe. Qualitative analysis identified significant and sustained negative impacts of the pandemic on psychological health, social isolation, finance and access to health services with carers requiring urgent information and support. Carer's challenges have deepened throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. There is an urgent need to develop innovative ways to provide support for carers to provide palliative and supportive care at home now and during recovery from the pandemic. Due to the need for infection control meaningful development and integration of urgent digital technology might be the most feasible solution.

Keywords: COVID-19; Quality of Life; cancer; caregivers; carers; health status; mental health; oncology.