53% of cancer patients are experiencing loneliness during the pandemic

experiencing loneliness
© Fizkes

According to a new study, more than half (53%) of adult cancer patients have been experiencing loneliness during the COVID-19 pandemic

According to a new study, published in CANCER, 53% of 606 patients with cancer were categorised as experiencing loneliness throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Patients in the lonely group reported higher levels of social isolation, as well as more severe symptoms of anxiety, depression, fatigue, sleep disturbance, cognitive dysfunction, and pain.

They were also less likely to be married or partnered, more likely to live alone, and more likely to have a lower annual household income.

“Patients with cancer, as well as survivors, need to realise that feelings of loneliness and social isolation are very common during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to this sense of loneliness, they may be having feelings of anxiety, sadness, and fatigue, as well as problems sleeping and high rates of unrelieved pain–all at the same time,” said lead author Christine Miaskowski, RN, PhD, FAAN, of the University of California, San Francisco.

Racial/ethnic disparities

The study included individuals who were primarily white, well-educated, and had a high annual household income.

“Given the racial/ethnic disparities associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, we hypothesize that the high symptom burden reported by the patients in our study will be higher in patients who are socioeconomically disadvantaged,” added Dr. Miaskowski.

“Patients may warrant referrals to psychological services to assist with symptom management. In addition, to decrease these feelings, patients and survivors can develop a schedule of social interactions; develop a structure to their daily activities; engage in regular exercise particularly in the outdoors; use stress reduction exercises; and eat a healthy diet.”


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