Concerns and Needs of Patients With Head and Neck Cancer in the COVID-19 Era

Flora Yan, Erika Rauscher, Amanda Hollinger, Mary Ann Caputo, John Ready, Shaun A. Nguyen, Carole Fakhry, Cherie Ann O. Nathan, Chris Leonardis, Danielle Yearout, Terry A. Day, Michael G. Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To evaluate the concerns and needs of patients and survivors of head and neck cancer (HNC) in the COVID-19 era. Study Design: Prospective cross-sectional survey. Setting: Contact lists of 5 North American HNC advocacy groups. Methods: A 14-question survey was distributed to the contact lists of 5 HNC advocacy groups evaluating patient and survivor needs and concerns related to their cancer care and COVID-19. Results: There were 171 respondents, with 75% in the posttreatment period. The most common concern was contraction of COVID-19 (49%). More patients in active treatment preferred in-person visits than those in the early (≤5 years) and late (>5) survivorship period (72% vs 61% vs 40%, P <.001). A higher percentage of late survivors preferred virtual visits (38% vs 28%, P =.001). In total, 91 (53.2%) respondents sought emotional support outside of immediate family and friends. This included cancer support groups (36.2%), the medical team (29.7%), and other sources outside of these (34.1%), including faith-based organizations and online communities. A higher proportion of women than men (62% vs 41%, P =.001) were seeking emotional support outside of immediate family and friends. Conclusions: During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, patients with HNC who were actively undergoing treatment had increased need for support resources and preferred in-person provider visits. Alternatively, a higher percentage of patients >5 years from treatment preferred virtual visits. Emotional support outside of family and friends was sought out by a majority of respondents. Further research is needed to determine what support and educational resources are needed to best aid these various populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalOTO Open
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2021


  • COVID-19
  • head and neck cancer support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Surgery


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