The content of online cancer patient blogs has previously been analyzed to inform physicians about the cancer experience and patient concerns. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has greatly affected cancer patients due to their vulnerable health status, as well as changes in cancer testing and treatment. We sought to qualitatively describe the concerns and experiences expressed online by cancer patients, survivors, and family members in relation to COVID-19. 152 blog posts written by cancer patients, survivors, or family members, were selected using combined Boolean searches and snowball sampling. Reviewers extracted subthemes from blog posts using line-by-line text analysis until a sufficient sample was achieved. Subthemes were hierarchically organized into major theme categories and illustrative quotations were identified. A total of 80 blog posts posted between January 20th and April 6th, 2020 were analyzed, revealing 23 subthemes. Major theme categories included: the direct and indirect impacts of COVID-19 on personal health and the health of others, comparisons between COVID-19 and the cancer experience, the impact of COVID-19 on social and psychological wellbeing, perspectives on government and the public response to COVID-19, and coping mechanisms and gratitude. COVID-19 has significantly affected cancer patients, survivors, and family members. Subthemes and quotations relating to perceived medical abandonment, patient mental health, and the impact of previous cancer trauma on the ability to cope with COVID-19 highlight the need for healthcare professionals to be cognizant of evolving patient concerns, so they may provide reassurance and appropriate care to their patients in these exceptional circumstances.

Experience Framework

This article is associated with the Patient, Family & Community Engagement lens of The Beryl Institute Experience Framework. (http://bit.ly/ExperienceFramework)