Variable Effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Radiation Oncology Practices in the United States

Daniel V. Wakefield, Thomas Eichler, Emily Wilson, Liz Gardner, Casey Chollet-Lipscomb, David L. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Purpose: Early in the pandemic, the American Society for Radiation Oncology surveyed physician leaders at radiation oncology practices in the United States to understand how the field was responding to the outbreak of COVID-19. Methods and Materials: Surveys were repeated at multiple points during the pandemic, with a response rate of 43% in April 2020 and 23% in January 2021. To our knowledge, this is the only longitudinal COVID-19 practice survey in oncology in the United States. Results: The surveys indicate that patient access to essential radiation oncology services in the United States has been preserved throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Safety protocols were universally adopted, telehealth was widely adopted and remains in use, and most clinics no longer deferred or postponed radiation treatments as of early 2021. Late-stage disease presentation, treatment interruptions, shortages of personal protective equipment, and vaccination barriers were reported significantly more at community-based practices than at academic practices, and rural practices appear to have faced increased obstacles. Conclusions: Our findings provide unique insights into the initial longitudinal effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the delivery of radiation therapy in the United States. Downstream lessons in service adaptation and improvement can potentially be guided by formal concepts of resilience, which have been broadly embraced across the US economy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-20
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1 2022
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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