Special Issue "The Mental Health and Well-Being of Oncology Providers"

A special issue of Current Oncology (ISSN 1718-7729).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 March 2023 | Viewed by 3656

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Leeat Granek
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Health Policy and Management & Department of Psychology, York University, 4700 KeeleStreet, Toronto, ON M3J 1P3, Canada
Interests: psycho-oncology; well-being of healthcare professionals; grief and loss; qualitative methods

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of acknowledging and addressing the mental health and well-being of healthcare professionals. Over the past 18 months, we have seen healthcare providers in Emergency Rooms and in Covid-19 wards burnout and experience severe emotional distress and trauma as a result of caring for sick and dying patients.

Within the oncology field, which often requires the long-term care of severely ill patients, many of whom will die in our care, the topic of burnout has received a great deal of attention. However, less documented are other aspects of the mental health distress and emotional well-being of providers as a result of this difficult work.

The aim of this Special Issue will be to focus on the topics that directly affect the well-being of oncology healthcare providers worldwide. This can include articles on resilience, sources of distress, grief and loss, coping strategies, compassion fatigue and compassion satisfaction, second victim syndrome, vicarious traumatization, intervention strategies to reduce distress and/or increase well-being, and educational approaches to increase the well-being of trainees among many others. We are also interested in articles that look at issues of gender and racial dynamics among clinical staff, patients, and families, the “audit culture”, and the privatization of healthcare as it relates to the morale and well-being of providers.

The scope is wide and may include healthcare professionals working in any area of adult or pediatric oncology including but not limited to physicians, nurses, social workers, psychologists, child life specialists, and palliative care providers.

In this Special Issue, original research articles using all types of methodologies, commentaries, personal essays, and reviews are all welcome.

We look forward to receiving your contributions.

Dr. Leeat Granek
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Current Oncology is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • psycho-oncology
  • well-being of healthcare professionals
  • grief and loss
  • qualitative methods

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

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Article
Oncologists’ Locus of Control, Compassion Fatigue, Compassion Satisfaction, and the Mediating Role of Helplessness
Curr. Oncol. 2022, 29(3), 1634-1644; https://doi.org/10.3390/curroncol29030137 - 04 Mar 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 842
Abstract
The oncology setting may give rise to significant feelings of helplessness among oncologists via patients’ inevitable deaths or suffering. The current study examines whether and how oncologists’ sense of control (locus of control; LOC) influences their compassion fatigue and satisfaction. Methods: Seventy-three oncologists [...] Read more.
The oncology setting may give rise to significant feelings of helplessness among oncologists via patients’ inevitable deaths or suffering. The current study examines whether and how oncologists’ sense of control (locus of control; LOC) influences their compassion fatigue and satisfaction. Methods: Seventy-three oncologists completed the following questionnaires: the Professional Quality of Life scale; Levenson’s Internal, Powerful Others, and Chance scale; the Guilt Inventory, State Guilt subscale; and the Learned Helplessness scale. Results: Oncologists reported high levels of secondary traumatic stress and burnout and moderate levels of compassion satisfaction. A positive association between oncologists’ external LOC and compassion fatigue, and a negative association between oncologists’ internal LOC and compassion fatigue, were found. Helplessness, but not guilt, had a mediating role in these associations. Internal LOC was also positively associated with compassion satisfaction. Conclusions: The current study highlights oncologists as a population at risk of experiencing compassion fatigue and emphasizes oncologists’ locus of control as a predisposition that plays a role in the development of this phenomenon. Additionally, the cognitive as well as the emotional aspects of control were found to be important factors associated with compassion fatigue. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Mental Health and Well-Being of Oncology Providers)
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Article
A Continuing Educational Program Supporting Health Professionals to Manage Grief and Loss
Curr. Oncol. 2022, 29(3), 1461-1474; https://doi.org/10.3390/curroncol29030123 - 27 Feb 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1015
Abstract
Health professionals working in oncology face the challenge of a stressful work environment along with impacts of providing care to those suffering from a life-threatening illness and encountering high levels of patient loss. Longitudinal exposure to loss and suffering can lead to grief, [...] Read more.
Health professionals working in oncology face the challenge of a stressful work environment along with impacts of providing care to those suffering from a life-threatening illness and encountering high levels of patient loss. Longitudinal exposure to loss and suffering can lead to grief, which over time can lead to the development of compassion fatigue (CF). Prevalence rates of CF are significant, yet health professionals have little knowledge on the topic. A six-week continuing education program aimed to provide information on CF and support in managing grief and loss and consisted of virtual sessions, case-based learning, and an online community of practice. Content included personal, health system, and team-related risk factors; protective variables associated with CF; grief models; and strategies to help manage grief and loss and to mitigate against CF. Participants also developed personal plans. Pre- and post-course evaluations assessed confidence, knowledge, and overall satisfaction. A total of 189 health professionals completed the program (90% nurses). Reported patient loss was high (58.8% > 10 deaths annually; 12.2% > 50). Improvements in confidence and knowledge across several domains (p < 0.05) related to managing grief and loss were observed, including use of grief assessment tools, risk factors for CF, and strategies to mitigate against CF. Satisfaction level post-program was high. An educational program aiming to improve knowledge of CF and management of grief and loss demonstrated benefit. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Mental Health and Well-Being of Oncology Providers)
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Review

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Review
Oncology Healthcare Professionals’ Mental Health during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Curr. Oncol. 2022, 29(6), 4054-4067; https://doi.org/10.3390/curroncol29060323 - 02 Jun 2022
Viewed by 736
Abstract
The paper begins by reviewing the literature on oncology healthcare professionals’ (HCP) mental health. We summarize and present the current data on HCP mental health in order to understand the baseline state of oncology HCPs’ mental health status prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. [...] Read more.
The paper begins by reviewing the literature on oncology healthcare professionals’ (HCP) mental health. We summarize and present the current data on HCP mental health in order to understand the baseline state of oncology HCPs’ mental health status prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. At each juncture, we will discuss the implications of these mental health variables on the personal lives of HCPs, the healthcare system, and patient care. We follow by reviewing the literature on these parameters during the COVID-19 pandemic in order to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on the overall mental health of HCPs working in oncology. By reviewing and summarizing the data before and after the start of the pandemic, we will get a fuller picture of the pre-existing stressors facing oncology HCPs and the added burden caused by pandemic-related stresses. The second part of this review paper will discuss the implications for the oncology workforce and offer recommendations based on the research literature in order to improve the lives of HCPs, and in the process, improve patient care. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Mental Health and Well-Being of Oncology Providers)

Other

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Commentary
Training for Wellness in Pediatric Oncology: A Focus on Education and Hidden Curricula
Curr. Oncol. 2022, 29(8), 5579-5584; https://doi.org/10.3390/curroncol29080440 - 04 Aug 2022
Viewed by 457
Abstract
Pediatric oncologists have the privilege of caring for children and families facing serious, often life-threatening, illnesses. Providing this care is emotionally demanding and associated with significant risks of stress and burnout for oncologists. Traditional approaches to physician burnout and wellbeing have not emphasized [...] Read more.
Pediatric oncologists have the privilege of caring for children and families facing serious, often life-threatening, illnesses. Providing this care is emotionally demanding and associated with significant risks of stress and burnout for oncologists. Traditional approaches to physician burnout and wellbeing have not emphasized the potential roles of education and training in mitigating this stress. In this commentary, we discuss the contribution that education, particularly in the areas of palliative and psychosocial oncology, can make in preparing oncologists for the work that they do. We argue that by adequately providing oncologists with the skills they need for their work, we can reduce their risk of burning out. We also discuss the importance of paying attention to hidden and formal curricula to ensure that messages provided in formal education programs are supported by informal training experiences. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Mental Health and Well-Being of Oncology Providers)

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Reflections of moral distress, resilience, and wisdom of pediatric oncology social workers during the COVID-19 pandemic

Authors: Barbara Jones; Nancy Cincotta; Wendy Pelletier; Abigail Fry; Lori Wiener
Affiliation: 1 University of Texas, School of Social Work, Austin, TX, USA; 2 Private Practice, New York, NY, USA; 3 Hematology, Oncology, Blood & Marrow Transplant Program, Alberta Children’s Hospital, Calgary, AB, Canada; 4 National Cancer Institute, Center for Cancer Research, NIH
Abstract: From the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the lives of pediatric oncology social workers have been altered. Professional challenges include difficulty building rapport with the use of telephone/computer replacing face-to-face connections, lack of clarity around who is designated as "essential", and the witnessing of inadequately addressed distress and isolation, especially at the end-of-life. This study aimed to describe the ways that the pandemic has personally impacted pediatric oncology social workers. Participants were recruited through the Association of Pediatric Oncology Social Workers (APOSW) listserv. 101 participants from 31 states and the District of Columbia completed an online survey containing quantitative and qualitative questions capturing sociodemographic variables, work and personal and professional experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. Qualitative data analysis included thematic analysis of participants’ optional open-ended survey responses for three questions. Analysis from the approximately 57% of the participants who provided open-ended survey responses revealed 3 first level codes and 20 second level codes. First level codes were developed a priori from the questions: Experiences that Stay with you, Wisdom Gained and Impact on Work. Pandemic-related challenges caused moral distress, unique insights and created opportunities for pediatric oncology social workers to recognize their own strengths and find continued meaning in their work. These insights have helped to facilitate unrecognized resilience, new ways of maintaining self-and family care, work-life balance, and creative alternatives to the care provided to children with cancer and their family members at diagnosis, during treatments and at the end of life

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