Oncology patients' communication experiences during COVID-19: comparing telehealth consultations to in-person visits. Academic Article uri icon


  • PURPOSE: The COVID-19 pandemic created significant disruptions in cancer care, much of which was transitioned to telehealth. Because telehealth alters the way clinicians and patients interact with one another, this investigation examined patients' perceptions of their communication with clinicians during the pandemic. METHOD: Patients were recruited from the Cancer Support Community, Fight Colorectal Cancer, and a market research firm to participate in an online survey. In addition to demographic and health-related information, respondents completed measures of patient-centered communication and evaluated how their communication in telehealth sessions compared with in-person visits. RESULTS: From October to December 2020, 227 respondents (65.6% female, 64.6% Non-Hispanic White, 33.5% had 6 or more telehealth sessions, 55% were 50 or older) reported having some of their cancer care provided via telehealth. Respondents who were of racial/ethnic minorities, male, had more telehealth sessions, or had poorer mental health reported less patient-centered communication with clinicians. Most patients thought communication in telehealth sessions was "about the same" as in-person visits with respect to good communication (59%). However, patients thinking communication in telehealth sessions was "better" than in-person visits were more likely to be Hispanic (49%), Non-Hispanic Black (41%), under 50 years of age (32%), male (40%), and had more telehealth sessions (34%). CONCLUSION: Respondents reporting less patient-centered communication during the pandemic-e.g., persons of racial/ethnic minorities and males-were also more likely to evaluate communication in telehealth sessions as better than in-person visits. Further research is needed to understand reasons underlying this finding. Cancer care clinicians should take into account patient preferences regarding telehealth care, which may be particularly important for racial and ethnic minority patients.

published proceedings

  • Support Care Cancer

altmetric score

  • 14

author list (cited authors)

  • Street, R. L., Treiman, K., Kranzler, E. C., Moultrie, R., Arena, L., Mack, N., & Garcia, R.

citation count

  • 6

complete list of authors

  • Street, Richard L||Treiman, Katherine||Kranzler, Elissa C||Moultrie, Rebecca||Arena, Laura||Mack, Nicole||Garcia, Reese

publication date

  • June 2022