COVID-19 has Exacerbated Challenges for Parents of Children with Cancer

COVID-19 has exacerbated financial strains, and childcare complications for parents with children diagnosed with cancer, according to a study from researchers at Duke Health which appeared in the journal Pediatric Blood & Health.

“Parents and caregivers of children who have cancer are already under tremendous stress,” said lead author Kyle Walsh, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at Duke University School of Medicine via a press release. “And while the pandemic has impacted everyone, the isolation, job losses, reduced wages, school closings and other effects of the pandemic have hit families whose children have cancer especially hard.”

Researchers surveyed 360 parents and caregivers of children being treated with or monitored for cancer.

According to the results:

  • 50% of caregivers reported delayed or cancelled appointments.
  • 26% said they had converted to telehealth visits.
  • 9% reporting logistical challenges traveling to appointments.
  • 28% reported lost household wages due to the pandemic, with 11% having difficulty. paying for basic needs and 5% straining to pay for their child’s medical care.
  • 64% reported feeling more sad or depressed than before the outbreak.
  • 77% reported increased feelings of anxiety, often because of isolation and financial struggles.


“Overall, many families were really struggling with interruptions to care as well as educational disruptions,” Dr. Walsh remarked. “In families with more than one child, figuring out how to get their cancer patient to doctor or clinical visits, for example, was complicated by having other children home from school, yet those children could not come along to appointments because of visitor limitations at hospitals and clinics.”