Pandemic and resilience: A qualitative analysis of the emotional impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on breast cancer patients in active treatment

Written by Silvia Nicolescu, Adriana Băban on . Posted in Volume XXV, Nr 3


Silvia Nicolescu*, Adriana Băban

Department of Psychology, Babeș -Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania


The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unequivocal disruptive impact on all walks of life. Cancer care and the patients involved have been especially affected due to disruptions in treatment scheduling and enhanced vulnerability to COVID-19 infection. The present study undertook an exploratory qualitative analysis to investigate the emotional impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on breast cancer patients undergoing active treatment. Ten breast cancer patients were interviewed concerning their illness and pandemic perception. To supplement their perspective, we also interviewed six psycho-oncologists on the emotional impact the pandemic has had on the patients they provide care to. The data collected during the interviews was inductively analysed using thematic analysis. The resulting themes showed patients to have experienced increased emotional distress symptoms, while prioritising the cancer treatment over the threat of infection. Those that had developed emotional regulation skills prior to the pandemic, along their cancer journey, made good use of them, providing proofs of emotional resilience. More vulnerable patient groups have also been highlighted, such as those that did not previously develop such healthy emotional regulation skills, newly diagnosed cancer patients and those lacking social support. Our study provides a useful insight into the emotional experience of the assessed oncology patients during the Covid-19 pandemic, and useful insight into the mechanisms that build resilience and flexibility for this population.

Keywords: cancer, coronavirus, psycho-oncology, psychological stress, qualitative



* Corresponding authors:
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.