Breast Cancer Resource Center Savannah, GA USA

Research Publications – COVID 2023

Oxford: Journal of Health and Social Work

Lived experience of breast cancer patients during the COVID-19 pandemic

Authors: Dr. Elisabeth Counselman-Carpenter, PhD, LCSW, Adelphi University, Joyce T Williams, Keepers of the Flame Foundation

04 September 2023

Access Publication to read article: Here

Objective: To understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer.

Methods: As part of a mixed methods study of 69 women who have or currently live with breast cancer, twenty-seven participants opted into a Phase II semi-structured interview to further discuss their experiences of emotional coping during the treatment process, beliefs about therapy and the impact of COVID-19 on their emotional experience during treatment. Thematic narrative analysis was used for analysis and to identify common themes.

Results: Participants shared about the unique stressors and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic during their treatment and how it complicated the already emotional experience of coping with cancer. Five identified themes include the logistical impact of COVID-19 and its effects on accessing medical care, concerns related to accessing emotional support, emotional reactions to the combination of battling breast cancer while living through a global pandemic, the ways in which loss was experienced, and identified benefits to technologically-based psychoeducation and social supports during the pandemic to mitigate social isolation.

Conclusions: COVID-19 had a significant impact on those currently in treatment for breast cancer including increasing fear, decreasing social support and increased logistical challenges. Changes to psychotherapeutic treatment protocols to include technologically enhanced psychological support during treatment and digitally based psychoeducation curriculum are warranted.