New challenges for psycho-oncology during COVID-19 pandemic. Urgent Implementation of Telepsychology
The health and assistance crisis generated by the SARS-CoV2 pandemic has been a serious health problem and a major disruption to the general population, specifically to the most vulnerable groups as cancer patients. This situation is forcing health professionals to face and take on major challenges to maintain the necessary care.
The main objective of this study is to maintain specialized psychological care for oncology patients, and in addition, to describe the principal psychological difficulties of our series of cases.
Before the alarm state in Spain, the therapy was changed from face to face to telephone attendance and an e-mail account was opened for specific consultations in which a psycho-oncologist was present in GenesisCare Spain. The psychological interventions carried out during this time have had two characteristics: 1) Cognitive-behavioral theerapeutic framework 2) Targeted and specific interventions on issues associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
From March 10 to April 30 (8 weeks patients and families have been attended to by 2.5 senior psycho-oncologists. A total of 369 psychological services have been attended in Spain in 142 patients. The number of services per patient has ranged from 1 to 4. The median of the long consultation has been 45 minutes. A qualitative analysis, based on a psychological interview, was conducted on the areas of intervention and concerns of the patients served. All patients presented with difficulties in more than one area and the main concerns were related to quarantine (emotional distress associated overload of information) and on aspects specific to the oncological disease (fear of death and disease recurrence).
A field is opening up to improve psychological care for cancer patients thanks to Telepsychology, which can remain as a model of comprehensive care and improve access to a wide range of users. Oncological patients have shown highly structured negative emotional responses to COVID-19 but 20% have shown a resilient response to this stressful situation.