Cochrane COVID-19 Study Register
Slivjak 2021

Cancer survivors' perceived vulnerability to COVID-19 and impacts on cognitive, affective, and behavioral responses to the pandemic

  1. Study Type
  2. Observational
  1. Study Aim
  2. Other
  1. Study Design
  2. Cross-sectional
  1. Intervention Assignment
  2. Not Applicable

Cancer survivors' perceived vulnerability to COVID-19 and impacts on cognitive, affective, and behavioral responses to the pandemic

Slivjak ET, Fishbein JN, Nealis M, Schmiege SJ, Arch JJ
Journal article
Report Results
STUDY OBJECTIVES: Given the uncertainty COVID-19 has caused for individuals with prior medical conditions, we examined the extent to which cancer survivors consider themselves at risk for the global COVID-19 pandemic (henceforth COVID), both in general and due to their cancer history. Additionally, we evaluated whether perceived vulnerability to COVID among cancer survivors predicts their cognitive/affective and behavioral responses to the pandemic. DESIGN/SAMPLE: Cancer survivors who completed primary cancer treatment (median months since treatment = 33.00) and were enrolled in prior behavioral trials with our research team (N = 146) completed two surveys in May-July 2020 (95.89% retention). METHODS: Participants rated perceived next-year risk of infection and of dying from COVID. We adapted established scales to assess perceived vulnerability to COVID generally versus as a cancer survivor, catastrophizing about possible COVID symptoms, COVID-related contamination fears, and adherence to COVID prevention behaviors. FINDINGS: In May 2020, on a 1-100 scale with 0 = no chance and 100 = definitely will occur, cancer survivors reported a chance in the next year of contracting COVID of M = 39.94 (SD = 23.90), and dying from COVID of M = 24.46 (SD = 24.84). Cancer survivors reported somewhat greater vulnerability to COVID compared to same-aged peers, increased contamination fears, and high adherence to COVID prevention measures. Similar findings emerged six weeks later, suggesting stability over time. In simple linear regression models, both general and cancer survivor-specific perceived COVID vulnerability predicted COVID symptom catastrophizing and contamination fears; in multivariable models, only general vulnerability remained a significant predictor. General perceived vulnerability and contamination fears predicted greater adherence to COVID prevention behaviors. CONCLUSIONS: Cancer survivors perceived elevated vulnerability to COVID even years after treatment, which predicted adherence to COVID prevention behaviors. Future research should identify the optimal balance between supporting cancer survivors' concerns and minimizing negative impacts on quality of life