PURPOSE: To critically synthesise evidence regarding the supportive care needs of those living with cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic.
METHODS: An integrative systematic review followed a pre-registered protocol, reported according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis (PRISMA) Guidelines. We searched three databases (CINAHL, MEDLINE, and APA PsycINFO) using keywords and included all qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods studies irrespective of research design published between December 2019 and February 2022. All articles were double screened according to a pre-determined eligibility criterion with reference lists of the final included studies checked for further studies. The review process was managed using Covidence systematic review software. Data from the studies were extracted, methodological quality appraisal conducted, and a narrative synthesis conducted.
RESULTS: Eighteen publications were included. The findings identified that individuals affected by cancer reported a range of physical, psychological, social, and health system unmet needs during the global pandemic. Unique to the pandemic itself, there was fear of the unknown of the longer-term impact that the pandemic would have on treatment outcomes, cancer care follow-up, and clinical service delays.
CONCLUSION: Many individuals living with cancer experienced unmet needs and distress throughout the different waves of the COVID-19 pandemic, irrespective of cancer type, stage, and demographic factors.
IMPLICATIONS FOR CANCER SURVIVORS: We recommend clinicians use these findings to identify the individual person-centred needs to optimise recovery as we transition to the post-pandemic cancer care.