Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
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Lessons learned from COVID-19: improving breast cancer care post-pandemic from the patient perspective

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journal contribution
posted on 2024-05-29, 15:27 authored by Charlotte MyersCharlotte Myers, Kathleen BennettKathleen Bennett, Caitriona CahirCaitriona Cahir

Background: Since the onset of the pandemic, breast cancer (BC) services have been disrupted in most countries. The purpose of this qualitative study is to explore the unmet needs, patient-priorities, and recommendations for improving BC healthcare post-pandemic for women with BC and to understand how they may vary based on social determinants of health (SDH), in particular socio-economic status (SES).

Methods: Thirty-seven women, who were purposively sampled based on SDH and previously interviewed about the impact of COVID-19 on BC, were invited to take part in follow-up semi-structured qualitative interviews in early 2023. The interviews explored their perspectives of BC care since the easing of COVID-19 government restrictions, including unmet needs, patient-priorities, and recommendations specific to BC care. Thematic analysis was conducted to synthesize each topic narratively with corresponding sub-themes. Additionally, variation by SDH was analyzed within each sub-theme.

Results: Twenty-eight women (mean age = 61.7 years, standard deviation (SD) = 12.3) participated in interviews (response rate = 76%). Thirty-nine percent (n = 11) of women were categorized as high-SES, while 61% (n = 17) of women were categorized as low-SES. Women expressed unmet needs in their BC care including routine care and mental and physical well-being care, as well as a lack of financial support to access BC care. Patient priorities included the following: developing cohesion between different aspects of BC care; communication with and between healthcare professionals; and patient empowerment within BC care. Recommendations moving forward post-pandemic included improving the transition from active to post-treatment, enhancing support resources, and implementing telemedicine where appropriate. Overall, women of low-SES experienced more severe unmet needs, which in turn resulted in varied patient priorities and recommendations.

Conclusion: As health systems are recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, the emphasis should be on restoring access to BC care and improving the quality of BC care, with a particular consideration given to those women from low-SES, to reduce health inequalities post-pandemic.


Open Access funding provided by the IReL Consortium

Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (Strategic Academic Recruitment funding)



The original article is available at

Published Citation

Myers C, Bennett K, Cahir C. Lessons learned from COVID-19: improving breast cancer care post-pandemic from the patient perspective. Support Care Cancer. 2024;32(6):338.

Publication Date

10 May 2024

PubMed ID



  • Data Science Centre
  • School of Population Health

Research Area

  • Population Health and Health Services
  • Cancer


Springer International


  • Published Version (Version of Record)