Failure to attend radiation oncology appointments during COVID-19: Analysis of data from an Australian public hospital

Carlene Wilson, Helena Romaniuk, Lilliana Orellana, Victoria White, Farshad Foroudi, Patricia M. Livingston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Abstract

Introduction: COVID-19 has impacted lives worldwide. Public health guidance has advocated for minimisation of infection risk by encouraging social isolation and physical distancing. In response, many health services have changed delivery practices to increased use of telehealth. We undertook an audit of hospital attendance data collected from a radiation oncology service in a large public hospital in Victoria, Australia between January and September in 2019, and the same period in 2020. The aim was to discern the impact of COVID-19 on attendance at appointments and whether attendance rates differed by appointment type. 

Methods: Attendance data and appointment type for the two targeted periods (a total of 62,528 appointments for 3383 patients) were extracted from the database maintained by the radiation oncology service. Logistic generalised estimating equation (GEE) models were run with the final model including the COVID-19 period (pre, during) and all patient and appointment characteristics.

Results: Results indicated a small decrease in attendance in 2020 (OR = 1.13, 95% CI 1.01–1.25, P = 0.026) with this predominantly reported for the non-treatment appointments, which consisted of follow-up appointments, nurse appointments, and treatment review appointments. 

Conclusion: Attendance for radiation oncology treatment was largely unaffected by COVID-19 although other services experienced slight reductions. Changes to work practices, specifically the increased use of telehealth, may have moderated the impact. Given the focus on one service in one location, it is not possible to generalise these results and future research should closely monitor both patient and staff satisfaction with services delivered via modified processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)874-880
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Oncology
Volume66
Issue number6
Early online date19 May 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • failure to attend
  • COVID-19
  • radiation oncology
  • telehealth

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