Cancer patients’ needs for volunteer services during Covid-19: a mixed-method exploratory study.

Publication date: Dec 01, 2023

To date, there are no known studies that have investigated the new need for volunteer services among cancer patients during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, it is essential for volunteer associations to heighten such knowledge to best guide their offer in this challenging period. The present study aims to provide a mapping of the cancer patients’ needs for volunteer services followed at Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori in Milan (Italy) during the Covid-19 pandemic. Since there are no specific questionnaires for this purpose, we created an ad hoc tool for which we report the preliminary result. We used a mixed-method multiphase approach. in April-May 2020 40 ad hoc paper questionnaires were distributed at the entrance of the aforementioned hospital, with the aim of investigating patients’ needs through two open-ended questions then analyzed through thematic analysis. the contents that emerged from Phase I were transformed into items and submitted to the judgment of a small group of “peers” (patients) and “experts” (professionals) in November-December 2020 to evaluate their comprehensiveness, representativeness and intrusiveness. Phase III: in January-February 2021 paper questionnaires, containing the items reviewed in Phase II, were distributed within the hospital to a representative sample of cancer patients. We applied descriptive statistics, Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA) and Cronbach’s Alpha. 32 patients completed Phase I, 3 “peers” and 9 “experts” participated in Phase II, 214 patients completed the questionnaire in Phase III. EFA highlights five kinds of needs during the Covid-19 pandemic, in order of priority: (1) need to be supported at the hospital; (2) need for emotional support; (3) need for daily errands; (4) need for practical support to family members; (5) need to share free time. Preliminary results on the tool are encouraging, although further studies are needed. These results will allow local volunteer associations to adapt their services during the pandemic.

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Concepts Keywords
December Covid-19 pandemic
Italy Mixed methods
Pandemic Oncology
Therapy Patients’ needs
Volunteer Volunteer services


Type Source Name
disease MESH Cancer
disease MESH Covid-19
disease VO report
disease VO time
pathway REACTOME Reproduction
disease VO organization
drug DRUGBANK Polyethylene glycol
drug DRUGBANK Trestolone
drug DRUGBANK Serine
drug DRUGBANK Cysteamine
drug DRUGBANK Coenzyme M
disease VO company
drug DRUGBANK Etoperidone
drug DRUGBANK Methylergometrine
drug DRUGBANK Aspartame
disease VO population
drug DRUGBANK Methionine
drug DRUGBANK Pidolic Acid
drug DRUGBANK Indoleacetic acid
disease IDO process
drug DRUGBANK Ademetionine
drug DRUGBANK L-Tyrosine
disease MESH end of life
disease VO Gap
disease IDO symptom
disease MESH Breast cancer
pathway KEGG Breast cancer
disease MESH Lung cancer
disease MESH psychological distress
disease VO Pal
disease MESH chronic Illness
drug DRUGBANK Guanosine
disease VO Iss
disease VO viability
disease MESH Stroke
disease MESH emergency

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