Health-Related Quality of Life and Depression Symptoms in a Cross Section of Patients with Advanced Lung Cancer before and during the COVID-19 Pandemic

J Palliat Med. 2022 Nov;25(11):1639-1645. doi: 10.1089/jpm.2022.0049. Epub 2022 May 19.


Background: Adults with advanced lung cancer experience reduced health-related quality of life (HRQOL) and psychological symptoms at diagnosis. Objective: This study aimed to evaluate whether the COVID-19 pandemic worsened HRQOL among patients recently diagnosed with cancer. Design: We analyzed baseline data from two randomized controlled trials of early palliative care to compare HRQOL and depression symptoms among those enrolled during the pandemic (January 2020 to January 2021) versus prepandemic (March 2018 to January 2019). Setting/Subjects: This cohort included patients recently diagnosed with advanced lung cancer in two multisite studies. Measurements: We used analysis of covariance to calculate adjusted mean differences between groups with the timeframe as an independent variable and HRQOL (using the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-General) and depression symptoms (using the Patient Health Questionnaire-9) as dependent variables, adjusting for age, gender, relationship status, performance status, symptoms, and time since diagnosis. We tested for an interaction between the COVID-19 timeframe and relationship status. Results: Neither HRQOL (adjusted mean difference -1.78; p = 0.137) nor depression symptoms (0.06; p = 0.889) differed between patients enrolled pre-COVID-19 (n = 665) relative to those enrolled during COVID-19 (n = 191) in adjusted analyses. Relationship status moderated the effect of the COVID-19 timeframe on HRQOL; unmarried patients experienced worse HRQOL during COVID-19 (adjusted mean difference: -5.25; p = 0.011). Conclusions: The COVID-19 pandemic did not further reduce HRQOL or increase depression symptoms among patients recently diagnosed with lung cancer, but did worsen HRQOL for unmarried patients in moderation analysis. Psychosocial evaluation and supportive care are important for all patients, particularly those with limited social support. Clinical trial registration numbers: NCT03337399 and NCT03375489.

Keywords: COVID-19; depression; lung neoplasms; palliative care; quality of life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • COVID-19*
  • Depression
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms*
  • Pandemics
  • Quality of Life

Associated data