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Walter, Julia ORCID: 0000-0003-4304-6159; Sellmer, Laura; Kahnert, Kathrin; Kiefl, Rosemarie; Syunyaeva, Zulfiya; Kauffmann-Guerrero, Diego; Manapov, Farkhad; Schneider, Christian; Behr, Juergen; Tufman, Amanda (2022): Consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on lung cancer care and patient health in a German lung cancer center: results from a cross-sectional questionnaire. Respiratory Research, 23: 18. ISSN 1465-993X

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The novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has caused a global COVID-19 pandemic, leading to worldwide changes in public health measures. In addition to changes in the public sector (lockdowns, contact restrictions), hospitals modified care to minimize risk of infection and to mobilize resources for COVID-19 patients. Our study aimed to assess the impact of these measures on access to care and behaviour of patients with thoracic malignancies.

Thoracic oncology patients were surveyed in October 2020 using paper-based questionnaires to assess access to ambulatory care services and tumor-directed therapy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, behaviour regarding social distancing and wearing of face masks were assessed, as well as COVID-19 exposure, testing and vaccination. Results are presented as absolute and relative frequencies for categorical variables and means with standard deviation for numerical variables. We used t-test, and ANOVA to compare differences in metric variables and Chi 2 -test to compare proportions between groups.

93 of 245 (38%) patients surveyed completed the questionnaire. Respiration therapy and physical therapy were unavailable for 57% to 70% of patients during March/April. Appointments for tumor-directed therapy, tumor imaging, and follow-up care were postponed or cancelled for 18.9%, 13.6%, and 14.8% of patients, respectively. Patients reported their general health as mostly unaffected. The majority of patients surveyed did not report reducing their contacts with family. The majority reduced contact with friends. Most patients wore community masks, although a significant proportion reported respiratory difficulties during prolonged mask-wearing. 74 patients (80%) reported willingness to be vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2.

This survey provides insights into the patient experience during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Munich, Germany. Most patients reported no negative changes to cancer treatments or general health; however, allied health services were greatly impacted. Patients reported gaps in social distancing, but were prepared to wear community masks. The willingness to get vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2 was high. This information is not only of high relevance to policy makers, but also to health care providers.

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