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The current study aimed to explore mental health problems in patients diagnosed with cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic. A cluster sampling, cross-sectional survey with 6213 cancer patients was conducted in one of the largest cancer centers in China. The socio-demographic and clinical characteristics, psychosomatic conditions, interpersonal relationships and social support, COVID-19 infection-related psychological stress, and mental health status were measured. Medical conditions were extracted from patients' electronic healthcare records. Among the 6213 cancer patients, 23.4% had depression, 17.7% had anxiety, 9.3% had PTSD, and 13.5% had hostility. Hierarchical liner regression models showed that having a history of mental disorder, excessive alcohol consumption, having a higher frequency of worrying about cancer management due to COVID-19, having a higher frequency feeling of overwhelming psychological pressure from COVID-19, and having a higher level of fatigue and pain were the predominant risk factors for mental health problems in cancer patients. However, there were only 1.6% of them were seeking psychological counseling during COVID-19. We also revealed the protective factors associated with lower risk of mental health problems among cancer patients. The present study revealed a high prevalence of mental health problems and gaps in mental health services for cancer patients, which also indicated high distress from COVID-19-elevated risks. We call for systematic screening of mental health status for all cancer patients, and developing specific psychological interventions for this vulnerable population.

Original publication

DOI

10.1038/s41398-020-00950-y

Type

Journal article

Journal

Transl Psychiatry

Publication Date

31/07/2020

Volume

10