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Patient perspectives and experiences of the rapid implementation of digital consultations during COVID-19 - a qualitative study among women with gynecological cancer

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PURPOSE: Due to the first COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent restrictions, standard practice for gynecological cancer quickly evolved to include additional digital consultations. Women with gynecological cancer have a high need for information and experience a high symptom burden. We aimed to explore the experiences and perspectives of the rapid implementation of digital consultations during COVID-19.

METHODS: We conducted individual telephone interviews with patients with gynecological cancer 1-4 days after a telephone or video consultation during the COVID-19 outbreak in April and May 2020. We applied Braun and Clarke's thematic analysis to analyze the qualitative data.

RESULTS: Thirty-two patients with ovarian (50%), cervical (35%), vulvar (12%), and vaginal cancer (3%) participated in the study. The patients experienced that, combined, cancer and COVID-19 restrictions made their situation twice as challenging. In general, the patients valued face-to-face consultations, recommending that they were ideal for the initial appointment to build trust. Overall, there was a willingness to participate in digital consultations because of the restrictions, but the results also showed varying degrees of openness and that individual solutions were favored.

CONCLUSION: The findings of this study show that digital consultations were an accepted alternative during COVID-19. Even though this temporary solution was deemed to be beneficial for practical reasons, patients also experienced digital consultations to be impersonal. A key message is that face-to-face encounters create the foundation to establish a trusting relationship from where a valuable dialogue arises. Digital consultations should therefore be implemented with caution since no one-size-fits-all model is recommended. Among patients with gynecological cancer, however, digital technologies represent a promising and flexible method depending on the purpose of consultations, patient preferences, and needs.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftSupportive care in cancer : official journal of the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer
Vol/bind30
Udgave nummer3
Sider (fra-til)2545-2554
Antal sider10
ISSN0941-4355
DOI
StatusUdgivet - mar. 2022

Bibliografisk note

© 2021. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.

ID: 69931032