Pandemic Having Major Impact on Pediatric Oncology Providers

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a profound impact on pediatric oncology health care providers (HCPs), according to a study published online Jan. 24 in Cancer.

How the Pandemic Impacts Pediatric Oncology HCPs

Elizabeth R. Sniderman, M.S.N., from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, and colleagues characterized the impact of the pandemic on pediatric oncology HCPs worldwide using a 60-item survey, which focused on changes to clinical care, resources, and effects on clinicians. A total of 311 responses from 213 institutions representing 79 countries were included.

The researchers found that 51 percent of the institutions cited decreased clinical staff availability as a major impact. Modifications to staffing included reduced provider availability (66 percent of institutions), changes to roles or responsibilities, and transfer outside the specialty. Frequent COVID-19 illness was a physical effect; HCP deaths were reported by 8 percent of respondents. Half of providers reported not having the necessary personal protective equipment. Psychological distress and financial concerns were also experienced by HCPs. The impact was more frequently seen on nurses than other HCPs. Across all hospital resource levels, impacts were reported, with staffing modifications more frequent in countries with a higher incidence of COVID-19 and higher mortality rates. Increased teamwork, communication, contributions outside usual roles, policies aimed at optimizing safety, and feeling that they were contributing stabilized the negative effects.

“The results presented in this study should not be taken lightly,” write the authors of an accompanying editorial. “They reflect a serious risk that can ultimately affect the care of children and compromise the success of their treatment.”

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