BACKGROUND: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic outbreak forced cancer care providers to face different challenges in terms of prevention and treatment management due to specific precautions implemented for oncological patients . We aimed to describe the level of knowledge, attitude and practices (KAP) among cancer patients, with the purpose to provide an image of the impact of COVID-19 and evaluate the effectiveness of pandemic response measures . PATIENTS AND
METHODS: We developed a cross-sectional multicentric study that targeted adults with active cancer during the COVID-19 outbreak, aiming to describe KAP related to COVID-19 among Romanian oncological patients . A questionnaire investigating 64 items on KAP related to the novel coronavirus was designed and applied in seven Romanian hospitals . The group of participants consisted of 1585 oncological patients who completed the questionnaire during the outbreak (April-May 2020).
RESULTS: Only 172 patients (10.8 %) had very good knowledge about severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection symptoms, treatment options and incubation period . Only 44.3% of patients identified diarrhoea as a sign of COVID-19 . About one-third of patients (32.6 %) declared that they are 'very worried' about getting infected with the novel coronavirus . More than two-thirds of participants (68 %) considered that having cancer represents an additional risk for infection with SARS-CoV-2, but 27.8% would rather not vaccinate against SARS-CoV-2 should a vaccine be available . A small percentage (8.8 %) believed that the risk of infection justifies delaying/stopping oncological treatment until after the pandemic . Around half of the participants (55.5 %) declared being compliant with all the protective measures against coronavirus infection listed in the questionnaire .
CONCLUSION: Romanian oncological patients have a less than expected knowledge about SARS-CoV-2, appropriate prevention behaviours, with limited trust in their efficacy, optimistic attitudes towards COVID-19 and low level of trust in information sources . Good COVID-19 knowledge was associated with appropriate practices towards COVID-19 and optimistic attitudes.
Index: COVID-19 outbreak, Romania, SARS-CoV-2, attitudes and practices, health survey, knowledge