COVID-19: a pandemic's impact on psychosocial factors and health-related quality of life of breast cancer patients



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In January of 2020, the coronavirus, or SARS-COV2, quickly became a pandemic and was detected across the globe, including in the United States. The exponential transmission of the virus was unprecedented, caused an astounding loss of life, and in an instant, it shut down an entire nation. The purpose of this explanatory sequential research study was to examine the psychosocial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the breast cancer community in terms of disruption of life, resiliency, medical care decision making, and health-related quality of life based on their personal COVID-19 status as well as that of their family members. A total of 33 participants were recruited all of whom were female breast cancer patients who were or had recently completed radiation therapy at a medical center in Texas. All the participants completed the COVID-19: Impact of the Pandemic and HRQOL in Cancer Patients and Survivors quantitative survey. From the 33 participants, 15 participated in a qualitative follow-up interview to provide a more in-depth understanding of the psychosocial impacts of the pandemic. Based on the findings of descriptive statistics and independent t-tests, the researcher concluded that there were no statistically significant disruptions in patients daily lives or health care or on measures of resilience based on individual or familial COVID-19 status (i.e., testing positive or negative for COVID-19). However, a moderate effect size (d = -.69) was determined for resilience with individuals whose personal status remained negative maintaining resilience despite the pandemic. Regarding health-related quality of life, the researcher concluded that individual as well as familial COVID-19 status had no statistically significant impact on a breast cancer patients’ quality of life, though a medium effect size (d = -.61) was found when examining individual COVID-19 status. As determined through Fisher’s Exact Test, breast cancer patients attended general medical appointment similarly regardless of COVID-19 status; however, breast cancer patients who were COVID-19 negative were statistically more likely to attend cancer related appointments in person than breast cancer patients who tested positive for COVID-19. As concluded from the results of Chi-Square analyses, breast cancer patients’ decisions to attend general medical appointments were impacted if a family member tested positive for COVID-19, though no statistically significant differences were found for attendance of cancer related appointment based on a family member’s COVID-19 positive status. These results were supported by qualitative evidence provided by the breast cancer patients, which offered greater insights on disruption, resilience, quality of life and medical decision making and has implications for community health and medical service providers.



Health Sciences; Oncology, Breast cancer, Psychosocial factors, Resilience, Health-related quality of life