Social distress among medical oncologists and other healthcare professionals during the first wave of COVID-19 pandemic in Italy

Women for Oncology Italy, R. Berardi, M. Torniai, M. S. Cona, F. L. Cecere, R. Chiari, V. Guarneri, N. La Verde, L. Locati, D. Lorusso, E. Martinelli, D. Giannarelli, M. C. Garassino

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Background: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has rapidly spread to every country around the world taking on pandemic proportions. Since 8 March 2020, the Italian government ordered a nationwide lockdown with unavoidable social isolation. Healthcare professionals (HCPs) represent the most physically and emotionally involved category. The aim of this study is to assess the social distress among HCPs in Italy. Patients and methods: In this online, totally anonymous survey, 24 multiple choice questions were posed to medical staff employed in the Italian Healthcare System during the COVID-19 pandemic. Data collection was performed from 30 March to 24 April 2020. Results: A total of 600 HCPs completed the questionnaire. The majority of respondents expressed the fear of being at higher risk of contagion than the general population (83.3%) and the weighty concern of infecting their families (72.5%). An insufficient supply of personal protective equipment (PPE; P = 0.0003) and inadequate training about procedures to follow (P = 0.0092) were seen to significantly coincide with these worries. More than two-thirds declared a change in family organisation, which showed a significant correlation with the concern of infecting their relatives (P < 0.0001). Conclusions: This is the first Italian survey on social distress among HCPs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The unavailability of PPE, screening procedures and adequate training strongly affected HCPs' emotional status. Although there was a predominance of oncologists (especially from the North of Italy), which impairs the generalisation of our findings, this survey underlined the social impact that this health emergency has had on HCPs.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100053
Number of pages8
JournalESMO Open
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • COVID-19
  • healthcare professional
  • pandemic
  • social distress


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