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The impact of COVID-19 on oncology professionals – one year on: lessons learned from the ESMO Resilience Task Force survey series

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  • K. H. J. Lim
  • K. Murali
  • Eleanor Thorne
  • Kevin Punie
  • Kostantinos Kamposioras
  • Christoph Oing
  • M. O'Connor
  • E. Elez
  • T. Amaral
  • Pilar Garrido
  • Matteo Lambertini
  • Bharti Devnani
  • C. B. Westphalen
  • G. Morgan
  • J. B. A. G. Haanen
  • Claire Hardy
  • Susana Banerjee
Article number100374
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>28/02/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>ESMO Open
Issue number1
Number of pages9
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date8/01/22
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Highlights • Risk of distress/burnout amongst oncology professionals continues to worsen since COVID-19 despite improved job performance. • Female and younger (≤40 years old) colleagues continue to be at higher risk of poor well-being and feeling burnout. • Job demands have increased, with nearly half now feeling overwhelmed with workload. • Concerns regarding career development/training, job security, and international fellowship opportunities remain high. • A quarter of oncology professionals reported considering changing their career, including leaving the oncology profession. Background COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the well-being and job performance of oncology professionals globally. The European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Resilience Task Force collaboration set out to investigate and monitor well-being since COVID-19 in relation to work, lifestyle and support factors in oncology professionals 1 year on since the start of the pandemic. Methods An online, anonymous survey was conducted in February/March 2021 (Survey III). Key outcome variables included risk of poor well-being or distress (expanded Well-Being Index), feeling burnout (single item from expanded Well-Being Index), and job performance since COVID-19. Longitudinal analysis of responses to the series of three surveys since COVID-19 was carried out, and responses to job demands and resources questions were interrogated. SPSS V.26.0/V.27.0 and GraphPad Prism V9.0 were used for statistical analyses. Results Responses from 1269 participants from 104 countries were analysed in Survey III: 55% (n = 699/1269) female, 54% (n = 686/1269) >40 years, and 69% (n = 852/1230) of white ethnicity. There continues to be an increased risk of poor well-being or distress (n = 464/1169, 40%) and feeling burnout (n = 660/1169, 57%) compared with Survey I (25% and 38% respectively, P < 0.0001), despite improved job performance. Compared with the initial period of the pandemic, more participants report feeling overwhelmed with workload (45% versus 29%, P < 0.0001). There remain concerns about the negative impact of the pandemic on career development/training (43%), job security (37%). and international fellowship opportunities (76%). Alarmingly, 25% (n = 266/1086) are considering changing their future career with 38% (n = 100/266) contemplating leaving the profession. Conclusion Oncology professionals continue to face increased job demands. There is now significant concern regarding potential attrition in the oncology workforce. National and international stakeholders must act immediately and work closely with oncology professionals to draw up future-proof recovery plans.