UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Virtual Oncology Appointments during the Initial Wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic: An International Survey of Patient Perspectives Loree, Jonathan M.; Dau, Hallie; Rebić, Nevena; Howren, Alyssa; Gastonguay, Louise; McTaggart-Cowan, Helen; Gill, Sharlene; Raghav, Kanwal; De Vera, Mary


There has been rapid implementation of virtual oncology appointments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in its first wave. Our objective was to assess patterns and perspectives towards virtual oncology appointments during the pandemic among patients with cancer undergoing active treatment. We conducted an international Internet-based cross-sectional survey. Participants were eligible if they (1) were ≥18 years of age; (2) had been diagnosed with cancer (3) were currently undergoing cancer treatment, and (4) spoke English or French. Between 23 April 2020 and 9 June 2020, 381 individuals accessed the survey, with 212 actively undergoing treatment for cancer, including 27% with colorectal, 21% with breast, 7% with prostate and 7% with lung cancer. A total of 52% of respondents were from Canada and 35% were from the United States. Many participants (129, 62%) indicated having had a virtual oncology appointment during the COVID-19 pandemic and most were satisfied with their experience (83%). We found older participants (≥50 years; adjusted OR 0.22, 95% CI 0.06 to 0.85 compared to 12 months) were less likely to be satisfied with virtual oncology appointments. Virtual health platforms used differed across countries with higher telephone use in Canada (87%) and other countries (86%) as compared to the United States (54%; p-value < 0.05), where there was higher use of video conferencing. Altogether, our findings demonstrate favorable patient perspectives towards virtual oncology appointments experienced during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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