Virtual care in cancer care existed in a limited fashion globally before the COVID-19 pandemic, mostly driven by geographic constraints. The pandemic has required dramatic shifts in health care delivery, including cancer care. We conducted a systematic review of comparative studies evaluating virtual versus in-person care in patients with cancer. Embase, APA PsycInfo, Ovid MEDLINE, and the Cochrane Library were searched for literature from January 2015 to 6 August 2020. We adhered to PRISMA guidelines and used the modified GRADE approach to evaluate the data. We included 34 full-text publications of 10 randomized controlled trials, 13 non-randomized comparative studies, and 5 ongoing randomized controlled trials. Evidence was divided into studies that provide psychosocial or genetic counselling and those that provide or assess medical and supportive care. The limited data in this review support that in the general field of psychological counselling, virtual or remote counselling can be equivalent to in-person counselling. In the area of genetic counselling, telephone counselling was more convenient and noninferior to usual care for all outcomes (knowledge, decision conflict, cancer distress, perceived stress, genetic counseling satisfaction). There are few data for clinical outcomes and supportive care. Future research should assess the role of virtual care in these areas. Protocol registration: PROSPERO CRD42020202871.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited