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Neuro-Oncology Advances, 2021

DOI: 10.1093/noajnl/vdab035

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The State of Neuro-Oncology During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Worldwide Assessment

Distributing this paper is prohibited by the publisher
Distributing this paper is prohibited by the publisher

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Abstract

Abstract Background It remains unknown how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed neuro-oncology clinical practice, training and research efforts. Methods: We performed an international survey of practitioners, scientists, and trainees from 21 neuro-oncology organizations across 6 continents, April 24–May 17, 2020. We assessed clinical practice and research environments; institutional preparedness and support; and perceived impact on patients. Results Of 582 respondents, 258 (45%) were US-based, and 314 (55%) international. 94% participants reported changes in their clinical practice. 95% respondents converted at least some practice to telemedicine. 10% practitioners felt the need to see patients in person, specifically because of billing concerns and pressure from their institutions. 67% practitioners suspended enrollment for at least one clinical trial, including 62% suspending phase III trial enrollments. Over 50% believed neuro-oncology patients were at increased risk for COVID-19. 71% clinicians feared for their own personal safety or that of their families, specifically because of their clinical duties; 20% had inadequate PPE. While 69% reported increased stress, 44% received no psychosocial support from their institutions. 37% had salary reductions and 63% researchers temporarily closed their laboratories. However, the pandemic created positive changes in perceived patient satisfaction, communication quality, and technology use to deliver care and mediate interactions with other practitioners. Conclusions The pandemic has changed treatment schedules and limited investigational treatment options. Institutional lack of support created clinician and researcher anxiety. Communication with patients was satisfactory. We make recommendations to guide clinical and scientific infrastructure moving forward, and address the personal challenges of providers and researchers.