Cayle Gao

Cayle Gao

A detailed analysis of secure messages between cancer patients and doctors during COVID-19


Cayle Gao, Gemme Campbell-Salome, Carma L. Bylund, and Jordan M. Alpert


Dr. Carma L. Bylund


College of Journalism and Communications


Communication between doctors and patients is essential to ensure optimal health outcomes, especially for cancer care. The COVID-19 pandemic introduced a new barrier regarding healthcare communication. Most healthcare communication has been forced to shift to telemedicine due to the pandemic. In addition, cancer patients are faced with an additional layer of uncertainty as they may be more vulnerable to COVID-19 due to a compromised immune system throughout treatment. These factors have significantly impacted cancer care that require complex conversations pertaining to diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment. There has been an increased use of secure messages between patients and providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The aim of this study was to analyze these secure messages between cancer patients and healthcare providers in order to identify the patients’ primary health concerns. The messages were coded into the following identified themes: (1) Technical and Procedural Issues, (2) Precautions outside of hospital, (3) Precautions inside the hospital, (4) Symptoms of COVID or questions about testing, (5) Risk for COVID, and (6) Changes, adjustments, and re-arranging care Reassurance and encouragement. Furthermore, additional sub-themes were identified within the main themes of the secure messages. The future direction of this study is to be able to translate the findings into care by developing recommended practices for oncologists and FAQ for cancer patients.


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Research Pitch

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