INTRODUCTION: During the COVID-19 pandemic, high-risk patient groups might have practiced social distancing and sheltering, and hospitals may have changed or postponed treatments and examinations. We aimed to explore health-related quality of life (QoL) in patients with haematological diseases during the early phase of the pandemic and their acceptability of using telehealth.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: We performed a cross-sectional survey among patients at the Department of Haematology, Odense University Hospital, Denmark. Eligible participants were patients receiving either active treatment or survivors in a follow-up program. The survey was open from 22 May to 13 June 2020. The survey contained questions on concerns and the impact of COVID-19 and acceptability on telehealth in addition to the assessment of health-related QoL. The later was assessed by the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer core QoL (EORTC QLQ-C30) questionnaire with the subdomains Global QoL, emotional functioning (EF) and social functioning (SF) being of primary interest. Further, anxiety during COVID-19 was assessed by use of an adapted version of the generalised anxiety disorder (GAD-7) questionnaire.
RESULTS: 4420 patients were eligible to participate. The response rate was 53% (n = 2239) of which 37% where in a treatment program and 63% where in a follow-up program. The majority (80%) of patients were concerned about contracting COVID-19. The global QoL score (69.0, ±SD 22.6) was markedly lower than EF (84.5, ±SD 18.9) and SF (85.0, ±SD 23.4). Regression analysis showed that being concerned (a little, moderately, very, extremely) about contracting COVID-19 correlated with lower scores of global QoL (-3.86 to -22.76), EF (-3.81 to -26.41) and SF (-1.14 to -22.49). The GAD-7 score showed that approximately 20% of patients had symptoms of COVID-19 associated generalised anxiety. Finally, 67% of the patients were positive towards replacing face-to-face consultancies with phone calls, but video consultations were less preferred (47%).
CONCLUSION: Danish patients with haematological cancer presented with low global QoL during the early phase of COVID-19, and 20% of the patients showed symptoms of generalised anxiety. Patients were overall positive towards the implementation of telehealth consultancies.