Two online surveys presented at the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) outlined the extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic has affected burnout, job performance, and wellbeing in the global oncology workforce.
The first survey included 1520 people from 101 countries between 16 April and 3 May 2020. Of these, 38% stated that they had experienced feelings of burnout and 78% had felt increased concern for their personal safety since the onset of the pandemic.
The follow-up survey was conducted from 16 July to 6 August 2020 and found that feelings of burnout had risen to 49%. The proportion of professionals who felt at risk of distress increased from 25% to 33% between the two surveys. However, 66% of professionals in the first survey felt unable to do their job as well as they had done before the pandemic, and this had declined to 49% in the second survey.
“These results suggest oncology professionals are adapting to the COVID-19 circumstances with a better ability to manage patients with cancer during the pandemic, but a higher risk of distress and burnout”, commented Susana Banerjee from the Royal Marsden Hospitals in London, lead author of the two surveys.
The majority of the oncology professionals in the ESMO surveys believed that counselling and psychological support services would be helpful. They also endorsed workshops and courses on wellbeing, burnout, and coping strategies, as well as flexible working hours.