Support Care Cancer. 2022 Dec 23;31(1):78. doi: 10.1007/s00520-022-07544-y.
PURPOSE: Care for older adults with cancer became more challenging during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in urban hotspots. This study examined the potential differences in healthcare providers’ provision of as well as barriers to cancer care for older adults with cancer between urban and suburban/rural settings.
METHODS: Members of the Advocacy Committee of the Cancer and Aging Research Group, with the Association of Community Cancer Centers, surveyed multidisciplinary healthcare providers responsible for the direct care of patients with cancer. Respondents were recruited through organizational listservs, email blasts, and social media messages. Descriptive statistics and chi-square tests were used.
RESULTS: Complete data was available from 271 respondents (urban (n = 144), suburban/rural (n = 127)). Most respondents were social workers (42, 44%) or medical doctors/advanced practice providers (34, 13%) in urban and suburban/rural settings, respectively. Twenty-four percent and 32.4% of urban-based providers reported “strongly considering” treatment delays among adults aged 76-85 and > 85, respectively, compared to 13% and 15.4% of suburban/rural providers (Ps = 0.048, 0.013). More urban-based providers reported they were inclined to prioritize treatment for younger adults over older adults than suburban/rural providers (10.4% vs. 3.1%, p = 0.04) during the pandemic. The top concerns reported were similar between the groups and related to patient safety, treatment delays, personal safety, and healthcare provider mental health.
CONCLUSION: These findings demonstrate location-based differences in providers’ attitudes regarding care provision for older adults with cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic.