INTRODUCTION: Cancer care is significantly impacted by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Our objective was to evaluate the effect of the pandemic on the emotional well-being of oncology providers across the United States and explore factors associated with anxiety and depression symptoms.
METHODS AND MATERIALS: A cross-sectional survey was administered to United States cancer-care physicians recruited over a two-week period (3/27/2020-4/10/2020) using snowball-convenience sampling through social media. Symptoms of anxiety and depression were measured using the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-4).
RESULTS: Of 486 participants, 374 (77.0%) completed the PHQ-4: mean age 45.7 +/- 9.6 years; 63.2% female; all oncologic specialties were represented. The rates of anxiety and depression symptoms were 62.0% and 23.5%, respectively. Demographic factors associated with anxiety included female sex, younger age, and less time in clinical practice. Perception of inadequate PPE (68.6% vs. 57.4%, p=0.03) and practicing in a state with more COVID-19 cases (65.8% vs. 51.1%, p=0.01) were associated with anxiety symptoms. Factors significantly associated with both anxiety and depression included: degree to which COVID-19 has interfered with the ability to provide treatment to cancer patients and concern that patients will not receive the level of care needed for non-COVID-19 illness (all p-values <0.01).
CONCLUSION: The prevalence of anxiety and depression symptoms among oncology physicians in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic is high. Our findings highlight factors associated with and sources of psychological distress to be addressed to protect the well-being of oncology physicians.
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