Background: The COVID pandemic has resulted in significant changes many aspects of daily living. To understand the impact that COVID-19 has had on the myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN) patient population, we conducted an internet based survey.
Survey: This survey was hosted Mayo Clinic’s secured REDCap system for online surveys with a link to the survey alongside a brief description posted via the www.mpnqol.com website, as well as other MPN organizational partners. Survey responses were completely anonymous. Questions included MPN-Total symptom score (TSS), NCCN distress thermometer (NCCN-DT), questions regarding impact on medical care, and questions from CDC COVID-19 community survey question bank regarding the impact of social distancing as well as changes in health behaviors.
Distress thermometer, MPN-TSS, and/or questions related to the impact of COVID-19 on MPN treatment were analyzed by: MPN diagnosis, among those with ET, PV, or MF diagnoses; medication status; stay at home order; community spread; and country. Associations were tested using Kruskal-Wallis or Wilcoxon rank sum tests (for continuous variables) or Fisher Exact tests (for categorical variables).
Patient Demographics (Table 1): 1560 people responded to the survey, 1217 were eligible for analysis. Median age was 62 (range: 21-93), and 298 (24.6%) respondents were male. There were respondents from USA, Australia, Canada, Netherlands, Ireland, and UK. 233 patients (19.2%) have myelofibrosis, 419 (34.6%) polycythemia vera and 543 (44.8%) essential thrombocythemia. At the time of the COVID outbreak, 1026 (84.3%) were on MPN directed medical therapy, including ruxolitinib (15.3%), interferon (14.7%), hydroxyurea (42.7%) and ASA (47.7%). 165 (13.6%) respondents received COVID testing, of which 5 had positive tests.
Impact on MPN Care (Table 2): We sought to understand how patient’s clinical care changed. Over half respondents who spoke to their MPN doctor had a telemedicine visit after COVID19 (57.1%). 422 (36.5%) patients spaced out visits, of which 99 (22.7%) felt there were consequences. A change in therapy due to COVID-1 occurred in only 5.4% of patients.
MPN Symptom Burden and QoL: Data captured on the NCCN-DT had a median of 4 (0-10). MPN-SAF-TSS composite score was collected in 1150 respondents, median score was 26 (0-90). These scores are higher than those previously reported.
Pandemic Impact on Lifestyle (Table 1): 595 (49.5%) of patients report living in a community where there is significant COVID-19 spread. 946 (78.9%) reported that COVID-19 has impacted their day to day life. 198 (17.2%) of patients agreed, or strongly agreed that COVID had a significant impact on their finances. 799 (67.8%) had a stay at home order. Of those who quarantined (112), the median duration was 30d (1-120). The majority of people increased hand-washing, and cleaning habits. 954 (81.7%) respondents reported wearing masks in public. 908 (76.8%) reported increased stress from social distancing. The majority of respondents report using healthy coping habits, such as reaching out to friends/loved ones, breathing and relaxation, as well as healthy diet. Less than 15% of patients report unhealthy coping strategies, such as use of opioids, benzodiazepines, alcohol, or cannabis
Factors associated with response: There were no differences in responses based on type of MPN. If a patient was on medication, they were more likely to have spoken to their provider (p<0.001). If there was a stay at home order in place, there was a higher MPN-TSS score (p<0.001). If the respondent lived in an area of high community spread, they had a higher NCCN-DT score (p<0.001). Patients in the USA had a higher NCCN-DT score (p=0.001), were more likely to stretch out the duration of time between visits (p<0.001) and less likely to have a telemedicine visit (p<0.001). Although fewer respondents in the USA thought COVID-19 was a serious disease (p=0.02), a higher percentage of respondents wore masks (p <0.001).
Conclusions: In our survey of MPN patients, there were many changes noted in clinical care. The use of telemedicine was common, and at least a third had significant changes in their care. Most experienced increased stress, however, employed healthy coping strategies. Only a minority of patients had a COVID test, and only 5 were positive, further data will be needed to understand the impact of COVID infection.