Background: The rapid outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has led to the delay of non-urgent or routine medical appointments, placing tremendous burden on cancer patients. Meanwhile, the emotional effect of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on high-risk groups, such as multiple myeloma (MM) patients, remains unclear. The purpose of this project was to understand psychosocial distress and unmet needs among patients with active MM during the acute phase of social distancing and COVID-19 impact in the United States.
Methods: We utilized HealthTree (healthtree.org) and invited patients with active MM cancer or precursor conditions to participate in an online survey curated through a partnership with the Cancer Support Community (CSC). Participants were asked to rate their level of concern (Not at All to Very Seriously) on 12 items assessing psychosocial, practical, and physical needs (selected from CSC’s CancerSupportSource® distress screening tool) during the COVID-19 pandemic. De-identified responses were aggregated and reviewed. The survey was determined to be exempt by the Western Institutional Review Board.
Results: 1,079 MM pts participated in the survey between April 15, 2020 and June 8, 2020. The percentages of patients responding moderately to very seriously concerned are reported here. Eating and nutrition (71%), sleep problems (49%), pain and/or physical discomfort (46%), and feeling too tired to do the things you need or want to do (44%) made up the physical/health concerns. Psychosocial/emotional concerns included worrying about the future and what lies ahead (46%), worry about family, children, and/or friends (44%), feeling irritable (37%), feeling sad or depressed (30%), feeling nervous or afraid (25%), feeling lonely or isolated (20%), and relationship problems with your spouse/partner (11%). Finally, 32% reported insurance or money concerns.
Conclusions: Respondents to our survey were most concerned with eating and nutrition, sleep problems, pain and/or physical discomfort, and worrying about the future. Informing patients and medical professionals of physical and psychosocial distress experienced by patients could create a unified approach to decreasing distress levels and increase patient overall health, even during a pandemic or when care is delayed. Patient-reported surveys via an online portal, like HealthTree, can help investigators assess the patient community and result in hypothesis-generating research questions to enhance patient outcomes.
Citation Format: Nathan W. Sweeney, Jenny Ahlstrom. Cancer-related distress among multiple myeloma patients during the COVID-19 pandemic [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the AACR Virtual Meeting: COVID-19 and Cancer; 2020 Jul 20-22. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Clin Cancer Res 2020;26(18_Suppl):Abstract nr PO-009.