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Examining Cancer Patients’ Perceptions of the Impact of COVID-19 on Teleoncology: Findings From 15 Nigerian Outpatient Cancer Clinics

JCO Glob Oncol. 2023 Mar;9:e2200221. doi: 10.1200/GO.22.00221.


PURPOSE: To examine cancer patients’ perspectives on the impact of COVID-19 on teleoncology in Nigeria.

METHODS: Data from a multicenter survey conducted at 15 outpatient clinics to 1,097 patients with cancer from April and July 2020 were analyzed. The study outcome was telemedicine, defined as patients who reported their routine follow-up visits were converted to virtual visits because of COVID-19 (coded yes/no). Covariates included patient age, ethnicity, marital status, income, cancer treatment, service disruption, and cancer diagnosis/type. Stata/SE.v.17 (StataCorp, College Station, TX) was used to perform chi-square and logistic regression analyses. P values ≤ .05 were considered statistically significant.

RESULTS: The majority of the 1,097 patients with cancer were female (65.7%) and age 55 years and older (35.0%). Because of COVID-19, 12.6% of patients’ routine follow-ups were converted to virtual visits. More patients who canceled/postponed surgery (17.7% v 7.5%; P ≤ .001), radiotherapy (16.9% v 5.3%; P ≤ .001), and chemotherapy (22.8% v 8.5%; P ≤ .001), injection chemotherapy (20.6% v 8.7%; P ≤ .001) and those who reported being seen less by their doctor/nurse (60.3% v 11.4%; P ≤ .001) reported more follow-up conversions to virtual visits. In multivariate analyses, patients seen less by their doctors/nurses were 14.3 times more likely to have their routine follow-ups converted to virtual visits than those who did not (odds ratio, 14.33; 95% CI, 8.36 to 24.58).

CONCLUSION: COVID-19 caused many patients with cancer in Nigeria to convert visits to a virtual format. These conversions were more common in patients whose surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and injection chemotherapy treatments were canceled or postponed. Our findings suggest how COVID-19 affects cancer treatment services and the importance of collecting teleoncological care data in Nigeria.

PMID:36921242 | DOI:10.1200/GO.22.00221

By Nevin Manimala

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